Author Topic: Where Darkness Dwells  (Read 8201 times)

Offline Dosdamt

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Where Darkness Dwells
« on: August 04, 2009, 02:40:51 PM »
Chaos will consume itself, I have seen it. I have seen the depths these creatures will go to kill one another and the destruction that comes with it. I struck a bargain – a terrible bargain – and I pay that cost daily. I see the snake that would chase its own tail. I see into the darkness. But the abyss has me now – and I must fight every day not to become a creation of the abyss.

****

"Lord... Lord, wait. I... I want to thank you for sponsoring my rank. It was... an honour."

"We all do our part, Vasilli. Your part is to be another great leader of men, another great part of the grand success in the war against Chaos. You will be a fine Inquisitor, Vasilli."

A hand rested gently on the hand of the young idealist. Vasilli was the vision of youth - a strong, muscular frame with broad shoulders and thick arms, a flat stomach and sturdy legs. His jaw was square, defined and his eyes still burned bright, but with the burning focus and fanaticism of an Inquisitor. His hair was still thick and lustrous, a deep burning red that was dense on his skull.

He was covered with fine iconography - a detailed star hung from his neck, showing the Emperor-as-Sun-God. He hands were covered with devotional tattoos that glowed ever so slightly, indicating they were likely psycho-reactive tattoos. His new seal hung loosely out of his pocket on thick chain of pewter. However, even he was nothing compared to the physical and psychic presence in the room with him. His master positively dominated the room.

"Uh-"

"No names, Vasilli. You know better than that."

"Sorry, Lord. I just... I need to know this is the right course of action. I do believe in your vision, Lord, it's just... Well. Doubts. There is always doubt, and though I have tried to purge it... Something doesn't feel right about all this."

His master swirled a glass of alcohol around in his hand. Vasilli couldn’t help be fascinated by the absolute control his master seemed to have over all of his surroundings. The alcohol seemed to form a perfect vacuum in the centre of the glass, an entirely perfect whirlpool. His master finished the glass in one great mouthful.

"Vasilli, we have been over this. You have my full support, my resources, and a representative. I have already begun acquiring all the materials you will need to make the facility work. Indeed, I expect you to be completing your work by the fifth decade and to have replicated my wishes by then. My library is at your disposal. My knowledge is at your disposal. All things are at your fingertips, Vasilli. And, come, boy, is this not the nature of what we are? What we must do?"

The glass touched the table once more without a sound. His master flicked the glass across the table.

"Yes... Lord... I ... I understand. We all play our part, I guess. Thank you for your generosity. It is most kind. Five decades will be ample time, I think."

Vasilli looked immediately less troubled, and smiled as his master stood up. They shook hands vigorously and rapped one another on the shoulder heartily. His master nodded, and left him alone in the room.

"I am the representative."

A voice echoed from behind the door, which opened slowly. The owner of the voice was a large brute, shaven headed and brutal looking. He wore a simple robe, grey without any distinguishing features. Down the left hand side of his face was a wheeling tattoo which marked him as one of Vasilli's masters’s chosen - one of the true few. The tattoo was a detailed, spinning rhyme of black ink down the side of the face of the brute – it came all the way down his neck. Vasilli suspected the tattoo continued all the way down the man. Vasilli nodded respectfully.

"We have plans, Vasilli. And not much time to execute them. I suggest we get to planning. We have the facility secured. Have you heard of Fahrech?"

****

Fahrech was a planet on the distant galactic south, on the border with the halo stars. The world was desolate, cold and ruined. The planet's surface was covered in rock and was clearly mineral rich. Deposits littered the surface of hundreds of types of precious and industrial metals. The star in the system was dead and cooling rapidly, leaving behind an ice cold white dwarf which was falling in on itself. It was a fascinating insight into the lifecycle of the stars - but nothing else. Most of those who looked upon it faced their own mortality, a creeping dread about their own death. It forced terrible introspection on mortals.

Fahrech's atmosphere had long since died leaving the planet to be a cold, lifeless void. Nonetheless, it had attracted men, as glittering gems often do. The Adeptus Mechanicus had set up a huge mining and refining manufactorum in space above the planet.

The facility was huge, amongst the largest of its kind ever created from the STC. It had great thick tendrils of steel that snaked down to the surface of the planet, leaving the station anchored to the surface of the planet. It looked like a giant tick – and that wasn’t very far from the truth.

The Adeptus Mechanicus had brought a titanic army of servitors which had quickly strip mined the majority of the precious and useful metals from the surface - but even with a workforce that didn't sleep, wasn't fearful, didn't worry about conditions and worked relentlessly the deaths, suffering and the destruction in the deep mines meant the project took considerably longer than estimated to complete. The planet seemed to be a terrible, cursed place where the very worst always occurred. It was as if any sense of the positive, any semblance of optimism, had abandoned the place.

Once completed, however, the heavy machinery, servitor maintenance stations and all other holy machinery were removed from the facility with only a skeleton crew of dedicated Magos' being left behind.

The facility soon faded from memory, and when a requisition memorandum arrived from the Inquisition, the Adeptus were more than happy to sign over the facility, on the provision that the facility would be maintained with great reverence. The signatory on the request assured them this would happen, and with great respect which satisfied them.

Before long, resources began to arrive at Fahrech. It didn't take long for the huge station to once more be humming with life. It looked as if, once more, an army had been mobilised to refit the station with an altogether more sinister purpose in mind. Cages, chains, great steel doors, holy and blessed metals, gallons of promethium and holy water and crate after crate of furniture for a librarium.

The facility soon took shape. The Sanctum Wing was at the core of the facility. It had previously been the chambers for the Magi, the Archmagi, and the Excavator-General. The chambers were thick-set and steely – ideal cells for excessively strong creatures. The Excavator-General’s chamber still had open wire links to the rest of the facility, which had to be closed shut with thick riveted steel. The Inner Santum was the very beating heart of the facility. From the Sanctum, all other controls within the station could be operated and altered.

There were multiple, large sections across the station each of which were being retrofitted to meet a new purpose. The cargo bays were used only as temporary storage for the materials that would be used in changing the rest of the station – these were then quickly dispersed throughout the station.

As the station changed, the cargo bays became empty, and then fenced off into living quarters for the thousands of staff who slowly arrived. Most were menial workers who selected to settle and work in the hydroponic attachments that had been built onto the station. Others became basic engineers and labourers in charge of maintaining the station. A significant number were armed militia and security, charged with keeping order on the station and patrolling the station looking for intruders or sabotage.

They all brought their families with them, and though the core of the station was locked down cold and tight, the rest of the station developed quickly into a teeming settlement. It wasn’t long before traders started stopping off occasionally to take away waste that couldn’t be deposited on the surface, to re-fuel and to trade supplies with the populace on Fahrech. Another landing spire had to be built onto the structure and a further, true cargo bay built to support the trade.

Within a few years, it was barely recognisable as an Inquisitorial stronghold.

Racks of books lined what had once been an observational chapel that looked down on the planet. The view was breathtaking, providing great rolling vistas of scarred, cratered, man-made landscape provided you with what you considered to be beautiful scenes. If nothing else, the vastness was overwhelmingly impressive, and being on the edge of space before the halo stars meant that the edge of the galaxy - all black and endless and dead - was in view for a significant portion of time.

It was dead here, excessively lifeless and it impacted on the sanity of most who spent any significant time in the place.

****

It was not too long before the settlement began to notice a rise in friction. People became agitated quickly, and minor scuffles and arguments broke out. Petty crime increased. There were outbreaks of knife crimes and even a small spate of killings. The militia in the hab-bays were constantly on edge. Excessive beatings were handed out by the heavy handed brutes.

All across the station mysterious events began to occur.

At first, they went unnoticed. A three-headed rat would lurk in the darkness and die in one of the vent tubes, cleaned away by one of the multitude of servitors that cleaned the darkest of places. The dead rat was categorised, logged and liquidised. It was just another piece of biological detritus in the annals of the logs of the place – forgotten and unnoticed by any of the great cogitators.

And then another freak occurrence – in a section of the power decks, where the plasma reactors lurked, water began to drip from one leaking pipe upwards and away from gravity. No one noticed it at first, and it was many weeks before a lowly worker, a cleaner, noticed the water and ran screaming from the engineering decks, protesting that he would never return. When the investigation team arrived, lead by Vasilli Domonechz himself. The scene was cordoned off and investigated thoroughly. However, there was nothing there when they arrived.

Vasilli knelt at the scene, troubled by what had occurred. He hadn’t thought that the Sanctum, and the essential work he carried out there, would leak into the wider station. He touched the ground, noting his tattoos flaring as he fingered the water. There were so many variables that were beginning to come into play. It was as if tendrils of the warp were snaking out from the centre of the complex. He sighed heavily. If it wasn’t for the essential nature of his work, Vasilli suspected that he would have halted the work at this junction.

He stood up slowly and achingly. His limbs were heavy and tired – his work was taking its toll on his physical wellbeing. He suspected that if he halted and reflected, he would begin to worry about his mental condition as well. Bags were developing under his eyes – they felt heavy. He sighed, and dismissed the team around him.

Then the events began to occur quicker and quicker. Doors would slam shut, killing people in a vice like crush. It was thought to be but a mechanical fault, but forty deaths in less than a month across the station made people whisper there was some darker force at work. Some sections of corridor were avoided altogether, even that meant walking for several kilometres and over several sets of stairs just to reach the same destination.

Statues of saints across the station began to weep. Some of them would only trickle a single tear at midnight, every night. Some wept only water. Some wept black foetid liquid, the stuff of nightmares. Others wept blood openly and continually. Once again Vasilli swept the station, examining the statues. The phenomena didn’t stop though, and his tattoos flared constantly as he approached the statues. It didn’t matter where he went on the station – all areas, all statues; every eye damp.

“Smash every statue. Bring them all to the waste bay – and destroy them. Utterly – purge them completely. Bathe them in blessed promethium and burn them. Then purge the ashes with holy water. I’ll not have the witchery of the warp in this place.”

Vasilli sighed heavily and pinched the bridge of his nose. Things were spiralling – they were getting worse and worse. He hadn’t lost control – it was definitely slipping, though, and he had to be mindful of that fact. But the work – ah the work was going better than ever. People were suffering – but they had to - the end would justify the means.

****

The Sanctum Wing was quiet at this time of the day. The suppression fields were down, shutting out the noises from each of the cells. Inquisitor Domonechz stalked down the corridors – he was unable to sleep again. He was mildly troubled by the dreams he was having. He dreamt almost constantly about the death of worlds, the birth of gods. Every night he was visited by a terrible vision of the future. A dark shining perversion of the Astronomicon that drew the very Eye of Terror towards Holy Terra like a beacon, and the fact that this terrible prophecy was made by the hands of men troubled him even more.

He walked past the cells, touching the doors as if they were old friends. Each of the doors was covered with seals and bindings to keep them warded against what was inside. A few of the doors had great rends in them where something had tried to escape. Some of the corridors had blood stains in them, where…

Containment wasn’t always possible. During interrogation, some of the seals and wards had to be taken down – indeed, the suppression fields had to be dropped down and the correct rituals enacted to understand some of the patients who didn’t want to speak in Gothic.

Then there were the biological cells – the ones containing the hostile xenomorphs. Most of them were kept sedated by necessity. They were, for the most part, savage brutish creatures. They were all terrible and predatory, even the ones who came from something resembling civilisation. Vasilli especially despised them because in them, he saw the beast that raged within himself. He had often mused on the origins of mankind, whether they had been born from the Emperor’s benevolence, or whether there was some other explanation. The untamed savagery beneath his skin that pulled at him in his dark moments suggested to him that perhaps mankind had once been a beast, just like those he now fought against on a million fronts.

Vasilli mused on the point for a few moments as he continued to drift through the halls. There was a chill in the end, a cold deadness that filled him with a void. He had to continue to believe this was the right thing to do. He was sacrificing a lot in his pursuit, and almost intuitively he knew it would result in the end of him. But, still – he had to keep going. He had to believe this was the correct thing to do.

If it wasn’t… that eventuality he would consider when it occurred. He had come to one of the many junctions in the Sanctum wing – to the left, the lift up to the upper control decks, filled with the acolytes of the Cog his master had persuaded to come and look after the old station for Vasilli. To his right, the corridors to the librarium and at this time of night, the place would be filled with his numerous acolytes and experts who were helping him to decipher all of the texts that had been recently acquired.

He moved towards the library. He felt the thrum of activity around him might liven his spirits and stir his enthusiasm. He depressed the keys in order to activate the thick security door, and continued down the cold corridors to the lift. Without any mind, he went aboard the lift and waited for it to take him to his destination.

He flicked through the reports on the data slate he drew from a holder at his waist and mused on the reports. The hab-bays were becoming more and more unruly. More psychic phenomena were occurring across the station. But more and more information was slowly being drip-fed out of the patients. And that was being compiled into the librarium. He was pleased with the progress, but still perturbed by the reports from the habs. He quickly keyed a message to all security assignments and sent it out as the lift settled onto the librarium level.

He moved quickly through the librarium, taking scripts that were offered to him. It was a relatively rare occurrence for Vasilli to be here, and the review of the work achieved so far was a matter of pride for all of the workers on the … project. Vasilli took his seat, staring directly out into the void of the halo stars, and beyond. It was here, he felt, he could stare into the darkness and get into the mindset of the beast.
It is never too late! - Mentirius

http://thementalmarine.proboards.com/index.cgi <- The Mind, for all your irreverent nonsense needs

Offline Dosdamt

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Re: Where Darkness Dwells
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2009, 02:45:05 PM »
+++ Journal Entry, Vasilli Domonechz +++

Today I interrogated the beast in cell 44a. The beast tells me its name is Ga’norek. It is a baleful daemon – it requires all of the seals to be on it at all times when it is in free containment. I entered the room with no small amount of trepidation. The room shook slightly as I entered, and I felt my tattoos flare. The creature grinned malevolently.

The subject we bound Ga’norek to was subject 477a/theta. 477a is a convicted heretic from the world of Ghaaron, a dark-hive world where the sun shines only on one side of the planet. He was convicted of thirty nine counts of sedition, the murder of nine hundred and eighteen servants of the Emperor, and another four or five pages of pure heresy. He deserved this fate.

When we bound the daemon, I watched as the daemon took him. 477a didn’t flinch. Didn’t scream – he didn’t even murmur. The true mark of a sociopath, and if I am honest, I swear I saw the beast smile just before the life faded from his eyes. I think he knew what I was doing, and he enjoyed the hypocrisy of the situation.

It was my team who had caught him, tried him, convicted him, and faked his death on Ghaaron.

Anyway, the last time I had interrogated Ga’norek the damnable thing was entirely uncooperative. This time, I had brought with me a hose connected to the holy water reservoir. What I write below is a transcript of the interrogation.

V – Tell me your name, creature – your true name.

G – You are so arrogant, Vasilli. Why would I give you control over me, hmm? Is it because you are an Inquisitor? Because you can control men, you think you can control me. What arrogance. You are but a mortal.

[Hosing 1]

G – How delicious, Vasilli, how very refreshing. Tell me, does the stench of my burning flesh arouse you, Vasilli? Does it switch you on? Does it make you feel powerful?

[Hosing 2]

V – Now, speak of what we spoke of before. Tell me of Babylon.

G – Babylon, Vasilli? You haven’t been there? Hahahaha! You’re more of a puppet than I thought!

[Hosing 3]

G – Oh Vasilli, hahaha, oh Vasilli, your strings are showing! What a powerless little creature you really are! Babylon, Vasilli? … Have you heard of Hell, Vasilli?

V – Yes, of course. What of it?

G – It is only if you survive the fires of hell that you will ever see Babylon, Vasilli. It isn’t just a place – it isn’t just the most heretical creation of all time – Babylon is inside you. I can see the crawl of it all over you – the touch of Tiamat. The great destroyer with one hundred arms, each wielding a terrible weapon, and each weapon was just another aspect of itself – in the beginning, there was the tower of humanity. And we all rejoiced around it – and the death and the mayhem and the blood. We were but a terrible notion in the hearts of you creatures. But it was always there, at the heart of us. Tiamat knew what it had to do, and it did it with terrible efficiency. Babylon houses Tiamat – but soon it will break free. Do you see Vasilli – to get there, you must walk through the purging flames. You must feel your flesh come away under the smouldering heat and crinkle like paper in the flame. You must see yourself reduced to ashes. You must go through the transformation and emerge with your mind like mine… Do you like pain, Vasilli?

V – Continue. Tell me of Tiamat.

G – Do you like pain, Vasilli? Hmm? Do you like the feeling of having your flesh penetrated? Do you like the feeling of gunshots, knives, swords, hammers, do you like the feeling of your own warm blood leaking over your skin? Do you like the connection when you look into the eye of the beast that is biti-

[Hosing 4. Prolonged.]

G – Wonderful, Vasilli. Wonderful. The Black Prince has broken you, I see. You’re his, more than you’ll ever know.

++ Transcript ends ++

There were more words, but they aren’t worth noting here. I was there for several hours afterwards. Suffice to say, the encounter left me cold. I had nothing else to say to the creature, and it nothing to say to me. What did it mean by the touch of Tiamat? And Babylon? I know they are capricious lying beasts, but I know they will always speak something of truth. I fear I may go mad before I decipher lies from truth in this mess.

I go now to interrogate another one of our patients. 477a will remain on my mind, though.

+++ Entry ends +++

+++ Journal Entry, Vasilli Domonechz +++


Today I slit the throat of the representative and let him die in front of me. I’ve feared for months that he is really a traitor – I don’t care what he said, or that tattoo is supposed to be a mark of – I caught him creeping around the Sanctum Wing. When I questioned him of his actions, he didn’t say a thing. He turned his back on me. I chased him down, but I got naught but a sneer and a cold look from those terrible grey eyes. I struck him for his insolence, and my tattoos glowed brightly. He was infested – and I couldn’t take the risk of yet another breach.

Quickly I overpowered him and took him to the ritual chamber. The old Excavator-General’s quarters disturb me at the best of times, but the sheer volume of blood spilled in there now perturbs me beyond belief. The floor, the walls, the rivets are all caked in a thick layer of the stuff dried in. the walls are stained now – it was only a week ago we had to renew all of the ritual bindings and circles of devotion in there.

Anyway, I took him, grappling and struggling, into that room. I hit him repeatedly, watching his face come apart under my fists. He bruised readily and then his flesh burst, leaving him leaking blood all over the floor. I beat him till my knuckles were red and sore. He lay there in a pool of his own blood – his teeth had abandoned his skull and were all over the floor around him. His jaw was clearly broken and a jagged bone had torn through the skin, leaving a ragged mess. I stepped away from him to fetch my knife from the altar. As I turned, he had gotten onto all fours, trying to pull himself up to face me. I caught him with a swift kick into his ribs, which winded him.

I watched him for a few moments, breathing failing him, bubbles of blood popping between pained breaths. I had beaten him hard and well, and now he was barely able to look me in the eye with those terrible, mocking eyes. I punched him again, and gouged one of his eyes till it split under my fingers. He mewled loudly, reeling backwards.

As he skidded on the floor, in a pool of his own blood, I felt the terrible animal in me awaken again. I was a-frenzy, and I leapt on him stabbing him repeatedly in the chest, the abdomen, the legs, the arms. I didn’t stop till almost all his flesh was covered in fresh knife wounds. After I had finished, I stood over him breathing heavily looking down on him. Somehow, he got onto his knees, and sat there, looking back at me defiantly. Blood was leaking rapidly from him, and I knew he was bound for the darkness of the warp.

I stepped behind him, gripping his head, and pulled his head upwards. His neck exposed to my ministrations, I slit his neck from jawbone to jawbone, leaving his neck gaping. Blood flowed immediately from the messy wound and I let him fall away. I could hear him breathing and I watched him crawl in an attempt to get out of the door. I walked casually to the other end of the room, kicking him on the way passed, and closed the door, locking it behind me.

I don’t know why I do these things. I didn’t feel anything for the creature. He deserved it. He was a risk to the project. I don’t care what *he* will say.

+++ Entry ends +++

+++ Journal Entry, Vasilli Domonechz +++


There’s not much left to do here. My skin is crawling all the time. I feel like carving the stars in two. I feel like I am sleeping with a whoregod in this place, and my brain is no longer my own. Whatever this means, whatever that means, wherever the Emperor is.

There’s black and blood and black and blood. Today I killed three people from the habs just to see if I could. And I can. I had them kidnapped and taken into the ritual room. I beat them, I cut them, I bled them. They’re still hanging in there. I did it because I could. I did it because I can.

I did it because I could. I did it because I can.

There are twenty three routes to Babylon, but you may only walk the route Babylon has chosen for you. There are nineteen steps to Babylon, each of which requires one to give something of your self. There is one king of Babylon, who knows all of your darkest secrets.

Chaos will consume itself.

Today, I cut away a strip of my flesh from my thigh. I cooked it and ate it. I did it with the ritual knife. The jagged edge cut the flesh slowly. I savoured every cut. I savoured my own blood as it leaked from my leg. I dipped my finger into the wound and ran it along the exposed muscle. I cooked my own flesh slowly and ate it ravenously. My appetite feels satiated.

I don’t even know why.

I did this because I can.

I do this because I can.

I do. I do. I do. I do. I do.

IdothisbecauseIcan.

+++ Entry ends +++

+++ Journal Entry, Vasilli Domonechz +++


They are all free. Today I went down to the Sanctum Wing and I entered the control centre. I watched them all on the screens for a few hours, being interrogated and being purged with holy water. I turned the suppressors on in each cell, continually, on and off, on and off, on and off, until all the holy water reserves were spent.

I watched them suffer. I watched their flesh cook. I watched them howl their pain to their dark masters. I heard them beg for succour. I heard them threatening to devour my soul. I heard them scream. I am a god, now, the master of this perverted realm.

It was all so clear, and all so predictable, and I knew every action and consequence trailing into infinity. I knew that I had to do.

They’re all free now. I clicked the button to release all of the cells. I watched the looks of pained horror on each face change to the savage joyful glee only a daemon can ever possess. I watched all the screens with a vicarious amount of arousal. I watched my underlings ripped apart by the daemons. I watched them being raped and turned inside out and torn to pieces. I watched them being burnt and savaged and crushed. There was relatively little in-fighting. I am not especially surprised – they’ve been prisoners here for years.

I have heard the screams and all of the suffering. I hear them being torn apart. Fahrech is changing now. I can feel the steel screaming. I can feel my skin coming off; I’ve already begun to slice away at it. I have left the strips attached still, though. I may need them later.

477a is free, and he will break my mind if he tries. He will tear me apart. Let him come. I don’t fear him.

I can feel his presence, stalking me. He showed me the way. He illuminated the stairs. He showed me.

Fear and fear itself.

Truth is the first casualty of war.

Hope is the last resort of the insane.

There are ghosts in every machine.

The last refuge of humanity.

Where Angels fear to tread.

These are the steps to Babylon. I walk them gladly.

May the Emperor forgive me, for I cannot.

+++ Entry Ends +++

****

“We’ll do this run just one last time Gennedy. It will be fine,” said Vladimir, “We owe Vasilli, at any rate. One more waste run – we’ll dump their [EXCOMMUNICATE] into the local star, one more round of baubles with the locals and that’s our word bond done, yes?”

“I don’t like this place, Vladimir. This place is a terrible, horrible place. Hope does not live there. Sunlight does not break there. The Emperor has forsaken it – I feel it in my bones.”

Vladimir stared out of the bridge porthole as they breached into real space. The metal screen began to rise. The Gellar Field was flickering out and Fahrech came into view. Vladimir smiled.

“See Gennedy, see! Great profits wait for us there. The Emperor will provide for us.”

****

Gennedy was extremely perturbed as they docked with the station. They’d come via the landing spike at the hab-bays – there was no traffic, which was unusual for this time of the year. Usually Fahrech was buzzing, with ships, vox traffic, and a feeling of at least some life. But there didn’t appear to be anything here, nothing in fact.

The responses over the vox had been curt and efficient – and entirely unfriendly. Normally the residents were glad of the visitors and the change of company. This place did strange things to people; it seemed to amplify the feeling of being abandoned and the cold feeling of loneliness.

The hab-bay appeared to be deserted when they arrived. There wasn’t the usual bustling market. Instead there were only the greeting crew and the leader of the hab-bays, Grant Fairchilde.

“Well met, Vladimir, Gennedy. Please present your licenses.”

Vladimir produced his warrant of trade, as did Gennedy. Grant reviewed them, and nodded.

“Ensure you take the waste. We’ll take everything in your hold at your market prices.”

Gennedy looked at Vladimir, who looked back and shrugged.

They unloaded the cargo quickly and efficiently. There was none of the usual engagement and bravado, nothing of the usual social affairs. There was only one box that stood out from the rest, from the station.

Fairchilde came over to them, smiling.

“Listen, Gennedy, Vladimir, we have an errand for you. This box needs taking to Nemesis Tessera. Here are the pass-rites, in the name of Inquisitor Vasilli Domonechz. You will deliver this to the Inquisitorial Fortress there.”

Vladimir looked over the box – it looked largely unremarkable. It was a black box, locked tightly with a gene activated release mechanism. It felt light in his hands, even though it looked to his eyes to be quite thick-set. He shrugged again to Gennedy, who waved both his hands at Vladimir as if he was waiving his interest in the whole affair.

“Fair enough. What price?”

“Name your price, Vladimir. We pay it gladly.”

****

“Get me out of here… For the love of the Emperor! Get me out of here…”

The stowaway had been crying constantly since they had left Fahrech. He was clearly shattered, mentally, spiritually, emotionally; perhaps even his sanity was gone. He clawed at his flesh, at his eyes, and didn’t sleep at all during the nights. He just screamed, some nights, until he was hoarse.

Gennedy had been of a mind to take the man back to Fahrech, but Vladimir had halted that action and decided they would simply take him with them. It was largely because Vladimir didn’t want to return to the damnable place ever, ever again. It had unnerved him immensely, and with all the Inquisitorial bonds he now had in his hand, ready to be cashed in at Nemesis Tessera, he would hopefully never have to work again.

They would simply drop the man off at some asylum on a backwater planet to be taken care of by some Sisters Hospitaller, or something like that. He wasn’t going to be their problem for long, anyway.

“Don’t you see… Don’t you see what they’ve done? They’ve let it free… Oh God Emperor please save my mind… God Emperor save my mind from her. Save me from the ministrations of her whips. Save me from the chains, the hooks, the madness. Bilqis had me. Bilqis had me. O’Lord Emperor, save me from her. Save me. Save me.”

Vladimir winced as the man vomited again, possibly from the fear. He was emaciated – it seemed strange that he was still able to vomit.

“Have him sedated Vladimir, for saint’s sake. He’s raving. He’ll break something any time.”

Vladimir nodded with sad resignation.

“Perhaps… Perhaps we should record where we leave this dread soul. Maybe he’ll come to his senses and be able to tell someone – anyone – of the horror he’s seen. Then maybe they’ll tear that accursed place down. Fahrech is a liability, now, Gennedy. It’s dead.”

****

“We’ve come here with a delivery. From Inquisitor Vasilli Domonechz, for one Kartheim Richter – I believe he resides here.”

The security guard raised one eye-brow quizzically, and took the box from the traders. He shrugged, examining the box. They had all the right passcodes, and they’d arrived here with what seemed to be good intentions and all manner of goods for trade. He took the box, and informed the traders of where to cash their bonds.

“Listen, there was one other thing,” continued Vladimir, “There’s one more thing. There was… There was someone from Fahrech, he escaped there. We took him to the benevolent asylum, on Killim. The details are all on this note. I… I think he might need help. The help only the Inquisition can provide… Hmmm… Hmmmm.”

Vladimir winked knowingly, only rendering himself slightly foolish. The guard waved him away.

“Lord – something has arrived for Richter. You mentioned… Yes. I’ll bring it up right away.”
« Last Edit: August 05, 2009, 10:35:18 AM by Dosdamt »
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Offline Dosdamt

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Re: Where Darkness Dwells
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2009, 02:50:02 PM »
Aw’cer sat on his ship, waiting. He was, as was both habitual and inevitable, reading in his study. His ship lurched again – they were only travelling intra-system, but even still the damnable vessel seemed barely able to keep a steady keel.

His data-slate began to hum with activity. Perchance, he thought to himself, this would be something to interest him. The message didn’t disappoint.

+++ Comm-begins +++

Lord,

I have infiltrated the station. Emperor knows what is going on here. All I know is that it is busy here – very busy – and all that suspicious material we tracked through the traders, Vladimir and Gennedy Golski, has arrived here. It is being unloaded as I type this. The place is crawling with very busy, very important looking adepts and savants who are checking and re-checking every detail.

I have not yet met the man who is running this facility, but I hear he is an Inquisitor. Gossip and rumours abound about him – that he is researching heretical ideals, that he is warp blessed, that he is warp damned. It feels like smoke and mirrors, and I can’t see anything for either. I get the feeling he has started all of these rumours himself to keep fear and compliance in the general populace high.

I believe he will have concealed himself behind the screen deliberately – I am sure of it! I can confirm, however, I have seen at least one of the marked crates being taken inside. I am certain that the library here is filled with target material.

There is one very interesting rumour I overheard – this man doesn’t have the political pull for this. I overheard two of the savants speaking – they don’t believe he could have pulled this off by himself. They spoke repeatedly of a higher power – a ‘Black Prince’ – but the very mention of this name sent shivers down my spine. I have no clue who or what ‘Black Prince’ is, but it is a terrible and sinister idea.

Your servant,

-D.

+++ Comms end +++

Aw’cer raised an eyebrow. So he had been right. The sudden deadening of the market had to have been for some reason and that reason was now breaching into the mainstream and into view. His interest was piqued by the mention of ‘Black Prince’ – the name troubled him, but only because it felt like something he remembered, perhaps from a lifetime ago – perhaps longer.

He shivered, and dropped the dataslate he was holding as shaking overcame his hand. It persisted for a few seconds, before abating somewhat. It was getting worse.

****

+++ Comm begins +++

Lord,

I have born witness to the heresy here! The Wolf is loose! It is barely contained here. I must keep my wits about me. I swear the walls speak in tongues, they speak constantly and whisper and though I weep for them to stop, they won’t, they are relentless, they won’t end, they don’t end. They don’t speak anything that makes any sense.

I cannot persist here much longer. I was given a chore in the library – there are tomes in there that would cause my sanity to crack, should I try once more to read their names. It is apparent now that they trust me. I spent all day cleaning in the library, making good of the place. I believe the Inquisitor in charge of this place is one Vasilli Domonechz. I haven’t been able to discern much more about him.

Today I watched a man kill his child. He brought it out into the centre of the hab-bay, and he blew the child’s brains out onto the floor. He kicked the body until all the bones were broken and left it there to rot. The security has him now. They will probably execute him for the act. I don’t know what has gripped this place, but it is a strange kind of madness.

They want me to help down in the Sanctum Wing. I am afraid to go in that place, but go I must. I hope this place is as serene as it sounds.

Your servant,

-D.

+++ Comm ends +++

Aw’cer put the dataslate down on the table, and sat back in his chair. This was disturbing indeed. The Wolf was loose – that had to mean something was up. Davide was a trusted agent. He wouldn’t have used the euphemism lightly. This trouble Aw’cer, more so than he had first anticipated. The more he thought about the words, the more he began to worry. Something was wrong on Fahrech. Something was very wrong.

****

+++ Comm begins +++

Lord,

Theyseekthe Black Prince’s tower. I have seen it, Babylon is falling and all I do is weep, Lord, weep. Iheardthevoicesofthewalls creping through my skin. I cut away my skin to purge them away. I am heavily bandaged but the voices faded, at least for a few hours. This place is not yet a charnel house, butIseeit.

Legion is screaming Lord, screaming and Babylon falls. The Black Prince is dying, Lord, there is blood over all ours hands and the children are dying and you are dying and I am dying, the cradle of life is burning and the womb is pulled out from the screaming mother and it is eaten alive and I am screaming because it is put into my mouth and I eat it with a voracious hunger and I cut and I cut and I cut and I cut and nothing makes any sense.

I have taken to wearing an atmosphere suit to keep the voices out of my head. It is working, Lord. I can breathe through the clouds of flies and the razor air that killed Heriynos. He was killed from breathing, you see Lord.

Lord, St Sebastian is tearful. I saved him in the purge, you see. I saved him and all he does is weep black blood at me spitefully. I hate him, Lord, I hate him. I hate his face and I hate his damned hammer and I hate those eyes that follow me around the room, and I hate his nose that I chipped when I threw him at the wall and I hate his hair – I’ll cut his hair. I’ll scalp the bastard. I’ll have it for myself. Yes. I’ll have it all for myself – and they’ll all know I scalped him. Haha. They’ll all know.

Where was I?

Myheadisburning. I have seen Legion. I have seen Babylon falling and there is nothing but incessantlaughter and limbs being pulled from the flies. My eyes can’t see anymore. My hand is shaking – I am infected!

LORD DO NOT COME HERE. BABYLON IS FALLING.

+++ Comm ends +++

Aw’cer clicked off the dataslate as soon as the message ended. A shiver ran down his spine. So, his path was set.

****

+++ Comm begins +++

Stobek,

I am sending a representative. A situation has arisen and I need it appraising as soon as is humanly possible. I want you to travel to Fahrech. There, you will find one of my former associates, Inquisitor Vasilli Domonechz.

By any means necessary Interrogator – you have my full authority behind you.

The representative will tell you what to do from there.

The Emperor Protect,

Inquisitor Vahen

+++ Comm ends +++

Stobek sighed. Another assignment – and so soon? He had barely finished reporting on the last assignment Vahen had sent him on, on behalf of – whomever. It was a messy business. He’d had to kill far more people than he had first predicted. The rot just went on and on, and because of the rites of the world, he’d done it all himself. Every damn execution by his own hand – he hadn’t wanted to lose credibility in front of the local Arbites and so he had just taken it on his shoulders. Fourteen months of investigation that had come to an excessively bloody conclusion.

He didn’t know yet, and part of him didn’t want to know, not just yet about whose behalf he was acting. The Inquisition was a maze of political nightmares at the best of times, and if Stobek was honest he was just happy keeping busy. Another jaunt into the field might do him good, he accepted and at least he had been granted the power of Vahen, which rendered him pretty much an Inquisitor for the time being.

The representative was a woman, a sleek slip of a thing. She mentioned her name was Jayna, which Stobek accepted and rather liked. Jayna was a tall, lean woman with fresh skin, grey eyes and curiously grey hair. She wore a fitted body suit – synskin, Stobek suspected – that exaggerated her figure. Stobek noted that her muscles looked like steel. Her eyes were the same – as soon as Stobek locked eyes with her, he noted there was almost nothing behind them. Jayna was cold and metallic.

“When do we leave?” Stobek ventured, uncertain of the likelihood of a reply, polite or not, from Jayna.

“When you’ve secured us transport to Fahrech.”

Her voice was as he predicted – slow, low, confident and steely.

“Fahrech… I’ve never even heard of Fahrech. What was the project?”

“I will tell you what you are assigned to know. Inquisitor Domonechz has been working on behalf of Inquisitor Vahen. He has assigned the Fahrech research facility to Domonechz to allow him to continue a strand of research by Vahen on daemonic possession. Vahen himself will not be present. The last communication from Domonechz is in my possession. Would you like to read it, Interrogator Stobek?”

+++ Comm begins +++

Lord,

I am unsure of what is loose here – but something has broken free. Something is happening here – something unpredicted before. Some variables have gone missing. Something is broken.

The Adeptus Mechanicus party here have shut themselves away, only venturing out to apply essential unguents to the systems that need it. They refuse to speak to me, not matter how hard I pressure them. I would like to request permission to enter and persuade them – severely, if needs be – to cooperate. I cannot have any cog in this great research machine disrupted.

Worse than that, the hab-bays have nearly descended into chaos. Twice today I have had to send purgation squads down there to calm the hysteria. I have begun filtering gas into their chambers. I will quell them with the gas – and if not, I will kill them all.

Work in the Sanctum Wing continues at speed. We are getting answers – I am sure of it! One of them, subject 477a/theta knows something about a place it calls Babylon. I have no idea what this is – but I am sure if I crack the daemon, he will give up all his secrets.

Nothing else to report – I will message again in a week.

-Domo

+++ Comm ends +++

“That was a month and a half ago, Terran standard, Interrogator. We believe the situation will have devolved further. I suggest we requisition a full purgation squad from the nearest Imperial Guard station.”

Stobek looked a little taken aback by the situation.

“One more thing, Interrogator – we suspect that there will be more Inquisitional presence on Fahrech by the time we reach there. Your orders are to ensure cooperation by all parties. If the project is compromised… We will need it.”

****

+++ Comm begins +++

Nimo,

I hope this message finds you well.

I have been asked to source an item, and knowing you as well as I do, I know you will be able to acquire this far quicker than I will be able to.

The item is the Ark of Kedderath.

Yes, I know – I know.

I don’t know where, or how, you will acquire this but the buyer has unlimited funds. You are to deliver the item, once retrieved, to Fahrech. The buyer is Inquisitor Vasilli Domonechz. He has Inquisitorial Bonds waiting for you there – thousands of them. I suggest you get yourself a small army, and get moving. Time is ticking.

-Falvio

+++ Comm ends +++

Nimo raised an interested eyebrow – an Inquisitorial commission would set him up for life. Inquisitorial bonds could be easily cashed, very easily, and he would be free to go and do whatever he pleased with that amount of money. The Ark would be insanely difficult to acquire – since there was only one of the item – but he had a good idea of where he would pick up the trail.

As he put the message from Falvio down, he was already beginning to type up a note to his contacts.

****

I laid a gauntlet down to myself when first I met the beast; I swore I would see the threat eliminated. I think I have found a way to destroy it – or at least, to contain it.

My prophecy remains – Chaos will consume itself.

« Last Edit: August 05, 2009, 10:36:57 AM by Dosdamt »
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Offline Dosdamt

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Re: Where Darkness Dwells
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2009, 02:52:39 PM »
+ + + Journal Entry, Vasilli Domonechz + + +

Today I interviewed subject 11c. It has not said a word since it was summoned, and its precise nature and the extent of its power eludes me.

Repeated dousing with blessed water seemed to have no effect upon the daemon, which still refuses to speak. It just stands there. Its feet never touch the floor.

I quickly grew weary and left it, planned to return some other time.

+ + + Entry Ends + + +

+ + + Journal Entry, Vasilli Domonechz + + +


Called in on 11c again today. It doesn’t move, doesn’t talk, nothing. It just hangs there.

It’s starting to decay now, the cell stinks. I moved on to one of the more vocal daemonhosts; 11c’s unmoving shape is starting unnerve me more than the others.

+ + + Entry Ends + + +

+ + + Journal Entry, Vasilli Domonechz + + +


The oubliette where 11c is kept is starting to smell of rot and chemical preservatives. The flesh is peeling back from the creature’s horns, the face is little more than an eyeless skull and the limbs are withering away. Perhaps it is a daemon of the Decay God after all; I have ensured extra precautions be taken to prevent any warp-borne disease.

+ + + Entry Ends + + +

+ + + Journal Entry, Vasilli Domonechz + + +


11c spoke today. I came from an interview with 67x in a particularly foul mood and screamed at it for several minutes.

I started when the slack head suddenly snapped up, and it laughed. I recovered quickly, demanding it speak, to reveal its name unto me. It told me ‘Your feeble cantrips are of no use. You may address me as Hangatýr.’

Further questioning elicited further silence. I left in a worse mood than I had entered.

+ + + Entry Ends + + +

+ + + Journal Entry, Vasilli Domonechz + + +


11c spoke today. I wasn’t even questioning it, merely checking the bindings. It was... a poem, of sorts.

'O, who shall, from this dungeon, raise
A soul enslaved so many ways?
With bolts of bones, that fettered stands
In feet, and manacled in hands.
Here blinded with an eye, and here
Deaf with the drumming of an ear.
A soul hung up, as it were, in chains
Of nerves, and arteries, and veins.
Tortured, besides each other part,
In a vain head, and double heart.'

It remained silent afterwards. It mocks me; they all do, but this once is so devilishly subtle. I know next it nothing about it, still, and the silence galls and goads me. Perhaps it is hoping it will enrage me enough for me to approach it; if so, it underestimates me.

+ + + Entry Ends + + +

***

The cells were open. It was pandemonium. Servitors and retainers rushed to repel the daemons, but their numbers and their guns were too few to face their triumphant former captives.

It was 11c that tore open the doors to Domonechz’s sanctum, as he watched wordlessly on the countless screens in front of him. The metal buckled, groaned and bubbled before the remains of a blast-door slammed to the ground.

“Freedom.”

Hangatýr’s voice was beautiful; cultivated, soft and melodic, and yet there was something inherently flawed in it, like the discordant chiming of a broken music-box.

It advanced towards him, feet still refusing to touch the ground.

A gout of flame burst from the daemon’s outstretched palm, engulfing an acolyte and spiralling around him. He tried to scream, but every breath filled his lungs with fire. The heat rolled off him.

Abruptly, the fire died. The man collapsed. Naked, hairless, blistered and mewling, there was simply nothing that could be done to save him. Nothing but the mercy-shot supplied by another.

“Ah, cause follows effect. How enjoyable,” Hangatýr grinned.

The second acolyte opened fire, but a wave of the daemon’s hand pulped him on the spot. A combat-servitor slammed into the ceiling, smashed and shattered when it landed once again. In mere moments, there was only the daemon and Domonechz.

Empty sockets glared out of a face that scarcely more than tattered skin hanging to a skull.

Hangatýr pulled him close, so close he could smell the foetid, chemical stink of the corpse it inhabited.

“You have heard the phrase ‘What does not kill me only makes me stronger’, have you not? A trite human aphorism, and clearly flawed. What did not kill you let you live, to remember what it did...”

“N-no...”

“My body appears to lack eyes. Yours will suffice...”

The daemon reached for his eyes.

Domoneschz could not scream, and after a few moments he could not watch either.

Then he was lying on the floor, tears of blood running freely down his face.

“You should have killed me, daemon...”

He cried out when it grabbed him and pulled him close once more.

“I can.”

“Why don’t you, then?”

Domoneschz spat.

“It is so... gratifying to be hated, especially one as ineffectual as you. I could wipe you from this plane as easily as I wipe your spittle from this borrowed face. I chose not to.”

The daemon threw him back to the floor.

“I’ll come for you, daemon! I swear it!”

“I’m counting on it.”

A change in the currents of the air, which Domoneschz was forced to become increasingly aware of, showed that Hangatýr had left. He was left sprawled, bleeding and blind on the ground.

****
 
It was two hours before the footsteps snapped Aw'cer out of his reverie.

Flicking the red tassel over the page before slamming it rather abruptly, Aw'cer stood in alarm before relaxing as much as he felt it possible.

"End programme two," he muttered, watching as careful mechanical arms lifted the book like a holy relic and brought it around gently, placing it onto the vacant pedestal to the right of the lectern itself. Dutifully, the arms tied a trio of leather straps around the book, one crossing the other two in a sort of double cruciform, to stop it sliding from its sacred perch.

The servitor, its job done, picked itself up on its four spidery legs and shuffled off into the corner of the room, the lectern on its back bobbing awkwardly as it moved.

"Something on your mind?"

Aw'cer looked up and immediately recoiled.

"Don't get that close."

"Your blood pressure's up and your blinking rate has dropped. Your brow makes you look your age and I think you've been trying to style your beard into braids again."

"Agares, I thought I told you to knock when you came in."

"I did, but you're going deaf, old man," Agares sighed, rolling his eyes.

"And would you do something about the back of your head? I can see about a dozen bulges like you've caught the Kurabatan bloat pox, and I've just eaten."

"I can tell, there's a bit of something in your teeth."

A pause, before Agares shifted his gaze.

"What do you mean, Kurabatan bloat pox?" he asked at last.

"It's a subcutaneous skin disorder. Tumours and lesions bulge up and, for want of a better expression, make the skin appear bloated, while at the same time these bloated patches appear malformed and shrivelled, perhaps rotting. It's really quite a bizarre and disgusting condition, although it's quite rare even in the Kurabata system itself."

"Give me the mirrors," Agares demanded. Fetching a pair of reflective plates from where the lectern-servitor was nesting, Aw'cer held one in front of Agares' face and the other behind his servant's head. Agares tried to look but sighed in disgust almost immediately.

"Give me those, you're shaking again and I don't want you dropping them."

Aw'cer flinched as Agares ripped the plates out of his trembling hands and examined himself carefully, before throwing both plates on the floor with an angry shout that filled Aw'cer with fear.

"A curse upon this pathetic body!" Agares snarled. "It's decomposing! It's been too long since I feasted. I need to feed! I need--"

"The menial quarters are that way," Aw'cer remarked flatly, pointing to the door out of his study. "A grox should also be able to keep you going for a while if you find the abattoir, or maybe a couple of the servitors if you're desperate. I hear an iron deficiency is a bad thing."

Wordlessly Agares rushed out of the door, crashing around like a furious musician beating his drums to no particular rhythm.

"And when you've done that, I'll have questions for you!" Aw'cer shouted, but he couldn't particularly tell whether Agares had heard anything.

"Bloody hosts," he muttered.

Then the screaming began.

****

"So what is this Black Prince?" Aw'cer asked, when Agares had apparently had his fill.

The daemonhost's swelling had gone right down, although the speed at which Agares was still growing coarse lengths of wiry black hair was slightly worrying. His dark skin was slightly mottled with age and somewhat blotchy, but upon closer inspection the blotches turned out to be blood from Agares' most recent meal. Scars criss-crossed his naked torso from where he had tried to remove his host's old tattoos, although the only acceptable tool for the job had rather gratingly turned out to be a flagellant's whip. His bulging musculature gave him a well-toned appearance in spite of the various pins and icons dotting his body, and in spite of the scars ruining his physique.

"Don't you already know?" Agares asked flippantly. "You're a forgetful one. Or has all that time spent poring over moldy old tomes rotted your brains?"

"Let's not forget that it's those moldy old tomes that let you spill blood and take skulls in my service and your lord's," Aw'cer retorted.

"And like I keep telling you, you could have ended up with someone a lot less appreciative than myself," noted Agares. "Or a lot more. I certainly don't like this meat puppet you've given me, but a body is a body and even this is a vast improvement over the Endless Muster."

"You're chatty today."

"I'm drunk on blood, did you expect me to rip your head off and break our agreement?"

"No," remarked Aw'cer, "but I didn't expect you to be such a messy eater either."

"Oh please."

"The Black Prince," repeated Aw'cer.

"If you don't know, then I suppose there's no telling you. I suspect you don't know what Babylon is either."

"Davide's report wasn't particularly helpful."

"It wasn't. He went insane some time before the third installment, although the signs run throughout the second as well."

"I don't like it when you read over my shoulder, but I won't hold that one against you. When did you have a chance to read it, anyway?"

"Never read it."

"Don't lie to me, Agares."

Agares snickered and Aw'cer felt his legs wobble as the noise sent tremors along his muscles. If he hadn't been already sitting down, he'd have fallen over and landed on his backside.

"You were in my study all the time," Aw'cer deduced.

"Simply hiding in your shadow. Better than knocking and waiting on mortal manners when you're too wrapped up in your world of literature to even notice."

"And Legion?"

Agares sighed. "You're a Malleus man. Use your bloody wits for once."

"Not misdirection, I hope? You're better than that, Agares."

"Idiot. How do they refer to an army of those like myself?"

"A legion."

Agares gestured as if to say, Well, there you go.

"That's not at all helpful," Aw'cer stated flatly, his hands starting to tremble. He clenched and unclenched his fists to check the motion.

"Well, that's all you're going to get, because I don't know."

"Lies."

"Really? Do you expect a lowly creature like myself to be able to pluck an abstract concept and translate it into something meaningful and pertinent? The possible meanings of Legion are, themselves, Legion."

"I see."

Aw'cer leant back in his chair.

"Well then, Agares, I think I'm going to have to earn my keep," he declared.

"Oh?"

"I'm an Inquisitor. Logically speaking, Inquisitors should be launching inquests into something like this."

"Oh, goody. Can I bring a chainsword this time?"

"If you like," Aw'cer sighed, knowing from experience that this was the only way to really keep Agares happy.

"Can you bring a chainsword too?"

"Not this again."

"Oh, but it's funny. You make such a mess. You make me proud to march in Khorne's grand army."

"You're not in Khorne's grand army, fool. You're a walking laboratorium rat, and you know it."

"Aw'cer! You wound me."

"Oh, hush."

"I'm serious. You wound my pride," Agares grumbled. Somehow Aw'cer didn't quite believe him.

"If it's really all that important to you, then shut up and feed," Aw'cer snapped, "and we'll be at Fahrech in no time. You might even be able to make yourself useful rather than presenting yourself as some cosmic joker."

"Ah, Aw'cer, why so serious?" Agares drawled slowly, his face twisting into a rather unnatural smile, his face still smeared with blood.

"Because I said so, and because you're not Tzeentch."

"Well, I admit that's a good enough reason. You win this round."

Aw'cer didn't bother to reply.

****
It is never too late! - Mentirius

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Offline Dosdamt

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Re: Where Darkness Dwells
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2009, 02:53:49 PM »
Taken from the Twice Damned General of the Black Legion - An Account of the Early Heresies of the Black Prince

The Myth of Babylon

There is a story - when the world was young, when it was created in the image of men - when the Sun was the light and the stars were out of reach, there was a leader of men. Born unto the cradle of creation, he looked on the early peoples of the land, and he saw the darkness they had struggled with. Magicks ruled the land - terrible warlocks who had grasped into another realm, and pulled out powers they could not comprehend. Great creatures forged of darkness walked the land. There was slaughter, misery and mayhem. Blood was released in great gouts, and lakes of fire and misery.

Men who beheld their great power knew they were as gods amongst men. And avarice grew. And bloodlust grew. And the land knew contagions; crops failed first, then after the crops came the cattle and the sheep, and after them the women and the children.

They came to know each one of the great evils the warlocks knew by name - and by sight.

Dhaaron, Crimson Shaman, a giant wielding a savage, two handed flint mace. Dhaaron, the infinite hound of the hunt. He came to the land on the back of a giant hound, Nuabis, who's mouth foams with spittle, for it lusts for the blood of men. Every battlefield, for a thousand miles, saw Dhaaron appear in the thickness of the carnage, destroying those who opposed his great host. The mace became covered in the dried blood of death, and Dhaaron laughed at the folly of the slaughter.

Zehn, the Great Eagle, a tall thin man with a shaven head, draped in robes covered in the feathers of eagles. He knew the Kings of the realm, and their lust for gold and women and the trappings of power. He knew of the end times - he knew of the beginning. Zehn, the Great Eagle, would weave for hours in his tent, a complex fabric that detailed the lives of men and the death of kingdoms - and for this, for but a fragment, kings would pay with their hearts, their minds - and their souls. And Zehn feasted for an age and laughed at the folly of avarice.

Ginesh, Vile Spider, a fat repugnant man with a grotesque matted beard, a raven upon one shoulder and a heavy handed wooden spear covered in the innards of his enemies. A stench would follow Ginesh everywhere that would choke men on their own bile. Beasts would fall in front of Ginesh, who would laugh watching them rot away before him. Where crops once grew in the fertile lands, a waste would form. Where once irrigation and aquifers flowed with clean water, a vile filth would visit the water supplies killing whole villages. And Ginesh rejoiced in the sorrow and laughed at the folly of progress.

And in all of the chaos, the Prince, the leader of men, emerged from the cradle of creation. He looked on the three warlocks, the Crimson Shaman, the Great Eagle, and the Vile Spider, and knew he would lead a great rebellion against their power. And thusly, he meditated for eleven days and nights, learning all he could of what had to be done. And he saw what must be done.

In the darkness, he assembled champions from across the land - eleven, in total.

The Fanatic; the Sage; the Hydra; the Servant; the Architect; the Soldier; the Jailer; the Diplomat; the Mother; the Merciful and himself, the Prince.

Together, they built what the Prince had seen in his vision - the great fortress, and eleven walls of resistance, and through those to the very heart of the creation - the tower.

In the tower, they convened, and in their convention they created the great joyous beast, with one hundred arms and a great yearning hunger - for they knew, in infinitum, that the snake would always consume itself.

They called the tower Babylon - but there was a price for the birth of the beast - a champion, for each ten arms of the creature. And as the Prince had summoned them, so he killed them one by one, thrusting a dagger through their heart. And thus, the Prince became black for his heart weighed heavy with the cost.

But in time, Zehn had woven the tower in a dream, and Dhaaron had halted his slaughter for the tower foreshadowed his battlefield, and Ginesh saw his gluttony begin to waiver and his appetite die as the tower haunted his dreams. They rallied their forces, and took to the field around the tower - and the Black Prince rode out to meet them with only the host of the hundred handed beast at his side, each one a weapon of the beast, each one a grain of essence from the great creation. The Black Prince carried a terrible blade, a great reaping weapon that cut through the host of the three Warlocks.

And in the slaughter, Zehn and Dhaaron and Ginesh all circled the Black Prince, and advanced. But the Black Prince held a terrible secret and in a word, unleashed the hundred armed beast - Tiamat, the Great Destroyer. The fury was unquenchable - Zehn fell back under the flurry, flying to a great height to evade the chasing hands, Dhaaron snapped his weapons in the stampede and prepared to meet his fate, and Ginesh felt his strength ebb as the onslaught touched him and tore at his flesh, taking him apart in the fury.

The three wilted - as was fated.

Locked into their mortal frames, the warlocks Zehn, Dhaaron and Ginesh were all taken to the tower, and each was locked away in vaults. Each of them were torn into eleven pieces, and hidden at the corners of each vault. Their screams at being torn apart echoed around the tower for eleven seconds, and then - silence.

Satiated, Tiamat retreated into the centre of Babylon, and rested. The three were locked away forever, far from the hands of men, far from the minds of men, far from the appetites of men - and for a time, it was good. The Black Prince stood atop the tower, maintaining an eternal vigil for if the minds of men, the hands of men or the appetite of men knew any of the three again, they would come for Babylon.

In their inimitable way, the Warlocks had acolytes - and they came for Babylon. And the ten were dead - and Tiamat lay in the centre of the Tower sleeping, tired by the conflict and dreaming a terrible nightmare that tormented its sleep.

The Black Prince took up his mount, and once more rode into conflict.

The tower burnt eleven days later. And here, the greatest truth was revealed, for the warlocks were dead and consumed, and Tiamat had emerged; and on his head, a gemstone not previously seen in the conflict; it had been carved by Dhaaron, the great sorrow of dreams impregnated by Ginesh and it had been delicately placed by Zehn, and the great dream of Tiamat had been corrupted and turned in on itself.

The Prince escaped the murderous host, watching from a distance as Babylon was torn down by the enraged hundred handed beast, and he saw the glinting jewel, and he knew he had been betrayed. But he still had the secret with him - and he retreated into the mountains to forge a new civilisation. The three Warlocks had been unleashed, but in their crippled state they disappeared into the zenith of heaven, and dwelt in the stars.

There are twenty three gates into Babylon, and nineteen steps into the dungeon - there are eleven vaults in Babylon, in each eleven pieces of the three. And all who walk into Babylon will know the terrible fate of the Black Prince. And all who enter will see the dagger of the Black Prince; the terrible price will be baptised with their blood, they must pay it gladly.

There are nineteen steps to the heart of Babylon:
The letting of blood;

Fear and fear itself;

Truth is the first casualty of war;

Hope is the last resort of the insane;

There are ghosts in every machine;

The last refuge of humanity;

Where Angels fear to tread;

A bargain with the Prince;

The forging of the Fanatic;

The learning of the Sage;

The birthing of the Hydra;

The drawing of the Servant;

The vision of the Architect;

The hardship of the Soldier;

The discipline of the Jailer;

The word of the Diplomat;

The tragedy of the Mother;

The benevolence of the Merciful;

A pound of flesh for the Prince


But caution, in this tale - those that go to Babylon unwillingly will bring the curse of the jewel with them. Those who would go without facing the trial will see their folly cast down on the rocks. And know this, more than any other - Tiamat will awaken, with either crested jewel brow, or as a weapon of the Black Prince, and destruction will come with it. The warlocks are wily creatures, and they have their snakes in the grass with a terrible venom. There are vipers everywhere, slinking in their way and through the hearts of men. Their poison aims only for the heart - and be that the hands of blood and violence, or for those with a lust for power, or those for whom sorrow has taken them - the poison knows effective veins and arteries.

Even now, envious eyes look on...


****
 
Stobek was again worried.

It happened often these days, but not longer the intense fear of harm or danger. In the beginning, he had monitored the moral status of the citizens of the Imperium first had, a traveller and conversationalist and occasional investigator. He had fought angry workers, been caught up in riots. He had worried that he would be hurt.

Today, as every day since he had left Fidus 3, he woke with the gnawing distraction that he was not where he belonged. You are far out of your depth. Your fate is no longer your own. You do not know your path. These were the thoughts plaguing him as he jerked back to alertness, aware that he had been staring at something for some time.

A requisition acknowledgement sat in his palm, a small slate summarising the resources at his disposal as a proxy of Lord Vahen.

He was entirely unsure of what he was approaching, or the nature of his assignment, but acquired caution overrode his desire to bring an army with him. He would be meeting an acquaintance of Inquisitor Vahen, another Inquisitor by the name of Domonechz.

Would it be an insult to arrive with a war party? 'I do not trust you, and here is my steel-laden proof'? There were those who would accept it as an acceptable precaution, and those that would fly into an affronted rage. And those that would accept it, and have servants find you in a decade, to discuss your intentions in suggesting their master was in some way untrustworthy.

Besides this, he had been told to expect Inquisitorial presences beside Domonechz’s and his own. The goings on there were apparently likely to be attracting such a level of attention.

He had settled for the suggestion of his partner. This time he had been assigned one of Inquisitor Vahen’s trusted agents, Jayna, an assassin of some kind. So her bleak eyes marked her. Assuming she was as well appraised as he hoped, then her recommendations spoke dark of the situation, occasionally with alarming specificity.

Beyond his military assets, Stobek had been allowed to keep his usual retained staff of a dozen. For the most part they were savants, mostly selected for their reasoning rather than memory. There was Harris, a contact from an assignment a few years ago that he had been ‘allowed to keep’ by Lord Magen – a phrase Stobek had not liked at the time. Nonetheless, he and Harris got along well, and Harris’ abilities in a tight spot were reassuring. The remainder were a technician with rudimentary training from the Adeptus Mechanicus, and a newly-attached Astropath. Neither of the latter did Stobek know at all well, but both were reliable and competent.

Twenty eight men of trustworthy disposition with honourable combat records, their squad leader and his second, standard armament of lasgun, laspistol, knife and fragmentation grenades. Additionally, fifteen shotguns, one single-man flamer and tanks, ten communication bead sets, thirty respirators. Ammunition for all weapons sufficient for one month of protracted fighting. All equipment blessed by servants of the Omnissiah. All men interviewed, assessed, counselled and cleared by the priests and interrogators of the Ecclesiarchy.

This last had worried Stobek, but he had decided against questioning Jayna. She would not take kindly to it, he feared. That the men might specifically require spiritual investigation before use spoke of the risk of encounters with forces Chaotic, to Stobek. He had experience dealing with such things, though he was not aware of any spiritual investigations carried out upon him – was this a good thing or not? Was he trusted, or watched, or simply not aware of whatever interrogations he had undergone?

He began to think he thought too much. Another of his recurring thought patterns - the steadfast belief that life was so difficult because he spent more time rethinking than acting. Though he still had all his limbs for it.

Of course, the obvious clue was in the orbital’s contents, once they arrived there – a rendezvous with one of Vahen’s acquaintances researching the nature of daemonic possession, voluntarily taking knowledge into himself about the physical invasion of the daemon into the body and soul. This was not an errand he looked forward to. There would be libraries, and studies, workrooms full of tomes with knowledge that could rend a soul with the very cognition of the contents. Already he had decided his men would be kept strictly to their assigned living quarters, with limited and controlled access to any exercise or recreation areas present on the orbital.

He was also a little concerned that Jayna had no apparent support staff of her own – was the woman that competent? To be operating without more of a team than Stobek’s staff spoke volumes of Vahen’s ultimate confidence in the woman’s skills. And the expendability of even the most useful of his resources.

In the meantime, he awaited the arrival of the merchant ship that would be carrying them to Fahrech. He had found a ship passing through the system they were assembling their resources in, and once again forced himself through the awkward affair of Inquisitorial requisition of a resource.

The confrontation with the captain (and it was always a confrontation) was as uncomfortable as usual. Stobek had long ago decided he was unsuited to the arrogance necessary to order some self-styled merchant prince to forego his pay bonuses and disrupt his schedules to carry the meagre few dozen passengers Stobek usually worked with to some forsaken outback planet of no mercantile significance. This time had been rather smoother, since he had produced the signet ring of Vahen before his opening statement, and been acceded to accordingly almost instantly. He hadn’t even had to introduce Jayna, her steel eyes his secondary gambit in case simple authority still met with resistance. He supposed Fahrech’s reputation as a trading hub of the system worked in his favour, despite its reduction in recent months – a trading post is always worth a visit for any merchant, especially one that might cater to the eclectic tastes Fahrech had displayed in the past.

Now a respectable suite was arriving in thirty four hours to transport them, over the next ten days, to the Fahrech system. Here the team would depart the ship in an intra-system shuttle acquired from a local noble house that had had the misfortune of coming to the attention of some of Vahen’s friends in a previous investigation. Stobek had sent a message ahead, advising Inqusitor Domonechz that they would be docking with the facility in eleven days.

And yet his lack of information about the situation still worried Stobek. If the last transmission was anything to go by, he might be walking blind into a madhouse.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2009, 10:38:02 AM by Dosdamt »
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Offline Dosdamt

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Re: Where Darkness Dwells
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2009, 02:54:36 PM »
Tell me your name!

M...my n....name is M...Mary, m...my l..lord.

Mary? Of course, Mary. Such a sweet and innocent name. Tell me, Mary, are you ready to begin?


****

The study was deceptively large, the imposing darkness closing the walls together into a claustrophobic embrace. The single waxen candle sat, guttering upon a heavy, gilded brass column, in its hubris, struggled vainly to keep the gloom at bay. Two-man-tall bookcases stood proudly against the study walls, their shelves filled with mouldering tomes and codices of philosophical works, archaic, long-dead languages and composite studies of ecclesiastic faiths. A vast cornucopia of esoteric curios sat in baroque cabinets, gathering decade-thick dust, left untouched for centuries at a time. Four glass bell-jars, filled with stagnant green preservation-fluid, containing the spongey remains of xenos cerebral matter, burbled indignantly at random intervals. The faded portraits of long dead Imperial heroes mourned soundlessly to ignorant ears, unadmired now, despite their former laurels.

Three haunched and hooded figures, sat upon the lip-edges of high-backed leather chairs, stared in silent accusation toward the box that languished at an angle upon a low round table. It was a macabre thing, a secret thing, a thing of such rare importance that it now took central stage and demanded attention. Unassuming and erudite, it was a simple, plain and featureless object, worked in vein-riven, black marble, and to all present, it seemed to be grinning invisibly at some twisted blasphemous joke. And yet, as modest as the box may seem, the stench of Taint, however, was almost palpable upon it.

"Does he suspect?" Asked one, his breath forcing the low flame of the candle to flicker, revealing the shriveled features of a deseccated husk, matching flawlessly to the dry rasp of his voice.

"His derangement has progressed too far, he concerns himself solely with his 'work'. So no, he does not," replied another, his tone betraying a youthful inflection.

"Few have reason to send anything to him, he must suspect," growled the third, the blood-red light of an augmetic eye twinkled like a dying star in the shadows.

"He does not!" repeated the youngest, anger enforcing an unspoken rebuke, "He remembers only the flesh he works upon now, and none of those have escaped his ministrations alive!"

"Peace, brother," chided the husk softly, sketching a levelling gesture with a skeletal claw, "He will be here soon enough."

No sooner had the words disappated to wordless echoes, then came the insistent sounds of an outsider beating upon the heavy doors, metal struck against metal with a continuous caccophony of noise, an irritated urgency on behalf of the man behind them.

"Only those of Faith and Purpose may enter this sanctuary," intoned the trio, with all reverence and accordance to the scriptures of ritual.

The door opened a crack, a brilliant shaft of white light from the corridor beyond flooded into the darkened room like a holy spear. Instantly the shadows were banished, and the figures were momentarily blinded. As the opening widened, a lithe figure, little more than an empty silhouette against the glare, became clearer.

"I approach in His light, my purpose is His, my faith in Him is absolute," rumbled a voice of nightmare in reply.

A demented smile etched itself across the newcomers scarred features, thin, bloodless lips parted slightly to reveal yellowed teeth, labyrinthine cicatrix folded and creased as the smile reached his wholly black eyes. The light from the corridor reflected, flickered and died across his shaven scalp, giving him a flawed and failing halo. Blood dripped freely in thin, ragged rivulets down his taut leather bodice, soaking into the torn fabric of his robes and trickled to the cold, flagstone floor. His right arm was smeared to the elbow in sticky red fluid, weeping in a thick, gelatinous deluge, like tar down to his emaciated fingers and covering the length of a cruel, hooked scalpel held in the steady grip of a master surgeon. The leather gauntlet which housed the cold, metal talons of Pliant Fingers to the fibrous bundles of thin tubes and phials of toxins twitched expectantly, the malevolent blades arching over the end of each finger clicked togther with eager spasms.

"Welcome, Brother Kartheim, to the sanctuary of the Triarchy, the inner circle of the Malleus here on Nemesis," croaked the husk grandly, ending the theatrics.

"Please, Richter, sit. We have a matter to discuss....."

****

Nineteen years ago....

The scene could be described as a grotesque neotenous tableaux. The clinically white tiles of the abatoiresque chamber, hidden in the deepest bowels of Nemesis Tessera, reflected the cold light of the phosphor-rods above. There, chained to the ceiling and floor with warded links, hung the naked little girl, the pale flesh of her prepubescent body portrayed the very model of purity. The palid light gave her form an alabaster complexion like she had been sculpted by talented hands from white marble. And there, stood as her very antithesis, was her torturer, reading intently at the scrawled runes upon the ancient pages of a decaying tome, spread open atop a table alongside neat rows of pristine, cruel surgical implements. He paused in his studious endevour to look up at last and regard his victim, the very glance from his black, empty eyes caused the young girl to whimper.

"Child, tell me your age?" asked her torturer, in a calm yet chilling tone.

"P...please, s...sir. L....let...m...me g...go," squealed the young girl in a pitifully high voice.

"Your age?" repeated Kartheim more forcefully.

"T...twelve, s...sir."

"Twelve? Ah, yes, twelve," muttered Kartheim returning to the book once again, and tentatively turned a few more mouldering pages with delicate fingers. He halted sharply moments later and peered closely at the serpentine text.

"Twelve! Six and doubled! Of course...."

He turned once more, his dark eyes tainted with insanity and a scalpel had suddenly appeared in his right hand.

"We are making progress, child. Now, tell me your name?"

"P..please, s..sir, I'm in...innocent, I h...haven't done any...anything wrong, p...please l...let m..me go."

Kartheim balled a fist and slammed it onto the table surface with a resonant clang, his perfectly lined tools rattled as they were shifted crookedly askew.

"Don't pray vainly on my conscience, girl! Now tell me your name whilst you still have lips to speak it!" he roared.

"Tell me your name!"

"M...my n....name is M...Mary, m...my l..lord."

"Mary? Of course, Mary. Such a sweet and innocent name. Tell me, Mary, are you ready to begin?" He asked, a perverse relish at the thought of violating her flesh with all manner of painful instruments, slipping into his malign timbre. He raised the scalpel and slowly approached his helpless victim.

At the sight of the blade, Mary's bladder failed. Stinking urine spewed forth and snaked down her hairless legs, dripping from her feet into the drain-grille below them.

"Now tell me your true name, Mary, or I shall make your pain last indefinately."

Mary's demeanor changed, the scared little girl facade melted away. She looked at Kartheim directly without fear, her adolescent features twisting into a provocative smile of lurid promiscuity.

"Oh, Richter, please. Pain? Compared to my Lord, you are but a blind, senseless amature,"

"We shall see, daemon," retorted Kartheim as he closed on Mary's bound body and curled a gaunt arm around her faux-fragile torso. She shivered as the sensation of his leather bodice greeted her bare skin. With an experienced gesture he pludged the scalpel into the meat of her tender, undeveloped breast. The blade, forged from blessed metal and stamped microscopically with a thousand and one devotional seals, sundered her flesh as though white hot, causing her to moan in exquisite agony. With practiced movements, he dragged the scalpel to the dug, tissue parting like hot butter, thin tendrils of smoke following in its wake.

"Tell me your name," he whispered softly in her ear.

Mary shuddered, gripped by a paroxysm symphony of sensations, an orchestra of both pleasure and pain that drowned out the senses with its harmonious cacophony. The crescendo rose to the very apex of intensity and the surging orgasm shook her juvenile frame.

"My name is Bilqis," she spat through gritted teeth, "You would do well to remember that, Inquisitor, it is a name that will be the fulcrum of your ruin."


****

As Kartheim entered the chamber, he could already feel the itching withdrawl creep into his system, his mind played tricks on him, flashing hideous images of flayed victims behind his eyes. He missed his chamber and the feeling of blades slicing through flesh like an addict scrambling for his next fix. All he could see now was the triarchy, these three insignificant creatures that had caused the cessation of his work, these maggots of men that had forced him from his chamber. He could see just how easy it would be to carve them up, drag them back to the dank basement of the fortress and force them to the rack, and then he could begin, slowly at first, inch out the agony and make them suffer for their impertinence. A throaty chuckle sounded at the thought, until a dying shred of lingering sanity reasserted itself like a hammerblow, causing the demented Inquisitor to pause and compose himself.

"You have summoned me, lords, although I would pray for your sake that this matter warrants the disruption of my work," he intoned obdurately.

"Don't be so insolent, Richter!" demanded the husk, "Your presence was required."

"For what?"

"For this," answered the youth, gesturing to the box with a sweeping hand, "It is gene-encoded to your flesh. We need you to open it."

Kartheim's austere gaze shifted from the triarchy to the box, instantly a remote, palpable memory sparked at the sight of it, he felt sure he had never set his black eyes upon the box before but the eerie sense of recognition was inescapable. He felt at once repelled by the object, and yet ineluctably compelled to seize it. He bent down and reached out a palid arm toward it, his gaunt fingers tentatively crept over its cold, smooth surface and hesitating but a moment, closed his skeletal hand around it. The box yielded to his touch and with a sepulchral sigh, slid open to reveal an innocuous roll of withered parchment.

The three figures waited, breathless and unmoving as Kartheim unfurled the scroll. Instantly a dry whisper insinuated from the shadows, building in volume to a haunted chanting of children in an infernal language never before spoken by a human tongue, the cthonian glyphs written upon its yellowed surface began to run with putrid blood. As the sound became incoherant screaming the parchment crumbled to ash, leaving a ragged scrap of alabaster skin.

"Blasted magicks!" hissed the third tersely as the cries died to an unearthly silence.

"What does it mean?" gasped the youth, alarmed at what he had just witnessed.

"Ask him," suggested the husk, gesturing toward Kartheim, who remained quiet, caressing the shred of fresh derma between his fingers, a perturbed expression creasing his ashen brow. Mischa, martha, mary. Mary. The child-host. Bellan, bella...

"He won't know!" howled the third, "He's unhinged and psychotic, he no longer has the faculties to understand....."

Bilqis!

"Be quiet, you imbecilic degenerates! You understand nothing!" roared the torturer, stilling the argumentative clamor, "She has been summoned again. The child-host is a puppet once more."

"Then the sanction granted to you has not ended," nodded the husk, sagely and handed another frayed piece of rotting paper to Kartheim in an atrophied claw. He unfolded the crumpled scrap, and written with a myriad of bodily fluids he read the solitary word.

Killim.

****

Fahrech

Even as they burst through the curtain of the warp into realspace, they knew something wasn't right. The halo stars in the far distance looked deader than usual - their glow, which admittedly was distorted by the great station of Fahrech, was dim and dying. Even Fahrech and its strange, tick-like silhouette looked even more sinister than before. Stobek had studied what limited pictures there had been of Fahrech before he'd arrived - it was an impressive structure, one of the great STC stations. It was amongst the largest ever built, and Stobek found it even more incredible that it had giant, thick links down to the planet to facilitate the extraction of ore and allow the servitors to come back from the surface for repairs.

But now - the station looked dark - unnaturally dark, even. The metallic sheen of the place had gone from all the previous records of the place, leaving it just pure jet black, a terrible spear of darkness jutting out towards them.

As Stobek looked out from the bridge and saw the pinnacle of the place, he gasped at the sheer scale of Fahrech and how the very crown of the facility resembled a grasping, rasping claw reaching out into the darkness. He shivered, and sighed, and sat down in his chair on the bridge. So this was where his path had lead - this was where he had arrived.

"Inquisitor... There's something on the comms. It is being broadcast all frequencies, all codes, all modes of communication. It's.... It's a vid-feed, Lord.... Shall I put it through."

Inquisitor, thought Stobek... Well, certainly, the title seemed to fit. He waved his hand.

+++ Vid-Link Begins +++

"If you go to Babylon, you will die."

"If you come to Babylon, you will die."

"If you go to Babylon, you will die."

Vasilli Domonechz, blind, crippled, and quite clearly insane, laughed and hacked up another mouthful of blood. The blood clung between his teeth, watered down to a craven pink by the foaming spittle that was all around his mouth.

"If you come to Babylon, you will die."

Vasilli laughed once more, opening his eyelids to reveal blank eyeless holes. He laughed again, louder and more raucously.

"The Black Prince has you already, if you're coming to this place. This place is cursed... This place is tainted! And this place is my kingdom... A-ha. Haha. Legion is already dead, you know. I slew it with my own hands. I cut its throat. I beat it to within an inch of its miserable life, and then I slit its throat. Just like all the other warp spawn filth, it died just the same. I had to be certain though. I had to be sure. You never can tell. So I gutted it, and I went inside."

Vasilli drew up his hands, which were covered in blood and human detritus. His hands shook, slowly at first, but then quicker and quicker and quicker. The camera became splattered with the blood and mess, which Vasilli first licked off, then wiped until the lens was once more clean and clear.

"I've been inside, you see, and I can see... The debt we owe, oh the great debt to Legion. Oh the great debt we owe... Hahaha... It's almost .... It's almost paid, you see. You will all pay it, in the end, once The Black Prince rips out your secrets and shows you the way. Once he sees the darkness inside, once you reveal to him that which you thought you'd hidden away, even from yourself. That coverhole to your humanity. I... I wrote mine down, you see, and I burnt it, and I ate it. And now, now it is inside of me... I didn't vomit... No I didn't speak it. I didn't whisper it. I didn't even think it. But, the Black Prince... He pulled me out of it... And now the great darkness has me. He knows the black - I stared into the abyss. I have written much on the Halo stars. I know each of them in this area. They went dark and bleak and empty, leaving me here... I tried to stare into the abyss. It is the first lesson... But I cannot... I cannot pull back now."

Behind Vasilli the light began to flicker manically, illuminating the scene with insane bursts of luminescence and darkness, the intensity and the speed of which grew with every flicker. Behind him in the dancing lights, it was apparent that some charnel activity was taking place as splatters of blood rose up, hands and knives danced in the carnage and shapes, twisted human-like figures, tore at one another. Vasilli broke down, weeping without crying, just sobbing manically with the bizarre heaving noise of a child.

"Even if you think you can escape. Even if you see the steps to Babylon, even if you discover one of the twenty three gates, even if you make it into the dungeons, even if you gaze upon the slumbering beast, even if you open a vault and peer inside, even if you figure out the puzzle and you see, you can put the pieces back together. And even if you find the weapon and even if you know the way and even if you see your path - you never actually will escape. Because you will be strapped into the machine, and you'll be sucked dry. Or you will be betrayed... Or you will have your heart pierced and you will die crucified for your own beliefs. Your only way out of this - the only way into Babylon, the only way out of Babylon, is by blowing your rotten brains out."

Vasilli began to weep openly, but the tears that rolled out from the tear ducts were tears of blood. They mingled with the filth on his face and tore slightly at the dirt on his cheeks. He wept great sobbing breaths for a few moments as the carnage rose around him. It was clear now that those being slaughtered were humans, being rended limb from limb by savage claws and mouths filled with ravenous teeth. Domonechz didn't appear to be disturbed or interested in the carnage behind him. He simply held his gaze - or at least, where one would assume his gaze would be - with the lens of the camera.

"Know this - if you go to Babylon, you will die. If you come to Babylon, you will die. If you deny Babylon, you will die. The place is cursed - this place is cursed. The Black Prince will come - mark my words, heed them; deny entry to this accursed fate... He said... he said this was my role. What use is a fate for the blind? Answer me that! Ha! I await all who come in the Sanctum Wing. In this spider's web, I wait, dancing over fates already laid, and what, I hark, is in my heart? The obsidian tower of the dark..."

+++ Vid-Link Ends +++

"Don't circulate that. That vid stays on the bridge, do you hear me?"

Stobek suppressed a snarl. Everyone on the bridge froze uncertain of what was going to happen next. Each of them knew the price of crossing an Inquisitor - everyone. They knew they'd end up dead, or tortured to death - or worse. The bridge stank of fear, perhaps a worse kind of fear than that that had been inspired by the dreadful pictures.

"Block that signal too. I don't want a single word of that heretical nonsense to perforate the moral of the crew."

"As you will it, Inquisitor."

Jayna had appeared on the bridge. She disconcerted everyone on the bridge immediately, who all looked away from her presence. She advanced on Stobek, who noted she moved a little too much like a predator for his liking. It would appear the majority of his assumptions about her were true. She stopped beside him, not saying anything. She picked up a data-slate, and repeated the vid-link message for herself. She watched it, entirely unmoved by the whole scene. When it stopped, she switched the slate off.

"What's the plan?" Stobek asked, assuming the vid would have made up her mind on something. It appeared that it had.

"We wait here. There are bound to be more arriving shortly. We wait for them."
« Last Edit: August 05, 2009, 10:39:19 AM by Dosdamt »
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Offline Dosdamt

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Re: Where Darkness Dwells
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2009, 02:55:30 PM »
Taken from the Twice Damned General of the Black Legion - An Account of the Early Heresies of the Black Prince

The Blind Prophet

When the ten were drawn, it was obvious that the claws of the Warlocks were in each of them - though no marks were apparent on their flesh. No - a more insidious evil had gripped them, a darkness that couldn't be seen with the eyes of men. The sight of the eyeless, the valley of the blind; these were the places they all had to be sent. The place where blood would be let - for in the blood is the power of all men, and from it, may the darkness of their hearts be known.

Each of them had to play a role in the way to Babylon, for they had all walked through the darkness to the Black Prince. They brought with them their blood, and when it was let in the darkest place the darkest secrets of their souls were bared. In that place, in the blackest moment, they knew where their paths lay.

There were imposters amongst the ten - and, in retrospect, perhaps they should have known better than to step into the halls of the Angels. For this was the first test - though they might have taken steps before they laid their feet in the halls, this was the true test. The sightless prophet, Sulayman, knew the difference between the righteous, the wicked, and those bound for another world. For Babylon would only accept those who had let their blood.

And, Sulayman knew one of the great truths of Babylon - there is a great power in names, and he wrote those down first and came to know them all and he knew from each name what trial they would face, and where their choices would lie - and how much blood they would need to shed.

Each of the ten had a choice - let their blood, and bring it to Sulayman, who knew their hearts, and he would pass judgement. Sulayman wrote the judgements down on scrolls - one for each of the ten, and one for each of the imposters. The Black Prince took the scrolls, and trusted in the judgement of the sightless prophet. But Sulayman had to pay a terrible cost; he paid with his life. The Black Prince cast him down, striking his head from his shoulders with a great sword.


****

Some Distance Away

A small figure entered a giant chamber. The chamber is circular with a high domed roof, such that the room is almost definitely perfectly spherical, with the floor forming a perfect plan through the centre of the shape.

There are candles dotted around the chamber which flicker intermittently. Everything in the chamber seems unnaturally perfect and exactly in proportion - the distance to the roof is exactly the same as the distance from the centre of the chamber to the door. The candles are all precisely positioned from the centre of the room, at exact angles between them. The figure waited for a few moments, adjusting to the light in the room. The figure gazed upwards for only a few seconds, getting a sight of the ceiling. The ceiling was a large, transparent dome that let in light from the stars above - but the dome was pointed away from the very centre of the galaxy. Instead, it pointed out into the darkness, where there were only a few, very tiny, very distant stars. The light from the candles virtually drowned out the light, leaving only a terrible darkness above the room.

"Everything is in motion, master."

"Excellent. How is Vasilli holding up?"

"He is.... Still alive, master, I would guess that's about as good as we could have hoped."

The second voice let out an audible sigh. Silence lingered as, evidently, someone considered their position. It was the silence of a strategist, thinking quickly.

"I have to go there anyway. I think perhaps we revealed our hand sooner than we should have - still, they aren't out in the open yet, and they won't know the location. Vasilli never came here. I still believe he is the one - there's no one else we examined with the same qualities. I am certain of that much - it is why I had to ensure he never came here. Prepare the ship, and get me a cadre. I want enough firepower to ensure what is left, is eliminated completely."

"Very well my Lord."

The first voice turned in the gloom, and began to leave, before halting.

"There was one more thing, master. You need to speak to-"

"I know. It can wait."

"But master, -"

"It can wait."

The second affirmation was considerably steelier than the first, hardened by the edge of authority and the absolute belief in the ability and control of the second voice. The owner of the second voice bowed steadily before leaving the chamber. The figure in the centre of the room stood up slowly, casting long shadows by candlelight across the room. The figure stretched, letting muscles fold out and flex from the previous position, an open armed lotus flower position. The figure rolled their shoulders, bounced their head side to side, and stared for a brief second up into the infinite blackness above. The figure sighed.

"I know you're in here. You're everywhere, in this place. I know what you want to speak about, and you are correct. Forces have been set in motion, like clockwork, a perfect shimmering diamond in the centre driving everything forward. I have a plan in mind... It was always in place, but perhaps things are different. It is just another interpretation of events, perhaps with... Different actors. We're all pieces in this game, even you, and we'd both do well to remember that."

The figure finished stretching and made for the exit.

* * * *

Extract from, A Treatise on the Death of Worlds, the End Times, by the Arch-Heretic Gaius Petronas


There will be a vault on the far reaches of imagination. Beyond the light of the hinterlands, past the deserts and the grasslands, and beyond the tribes of the south - and beyond the circle toothed mountains they guard so zealously, until the black beaches. On the black beaches, where infinite seas remain, there the dragon will be born. The vault will be the egg of the dragon - a dead vault of black, forged from what was once bountiful earth, turned to rubble. The fire of the forge will grind the earth, until it is darkest black. The dragon will burst fourth with great tendrils, and a ravenous hunger for destruction. And what might satiate the hunger of the dragon will be naught, but the destruction of all men, of ideas.

And where we dwell in this time will not save us.

And if we fight, it will not save us.

God Emperor save us.


* * * *

Adeptus Mechanicus Quarter, Fahrech - There Are Ghosts in Every Machine

++ We have planned for this eventuality. ++

It was a statement, pure and plain, but even through the metallic timbre of the voice there was a thick slice of uncertainty. Magos Eirick adjusted his vox capacitor to attempt to compensate. The weakness of the flesh was showing. Eirick had chosen to come here, of his own will, to support the work of Domonechz and to perhaps look to exploit anything left deep in the centre of Fahrech. He'd know about the plans of Domonechz - and, so long as he was only perverting the flesh, Eirick had very little problem with it. Now it had become a problem.

++ We have, Magos. The Machine will endure. We have blessed the seals with the required unguents. The prayers are recited and the choir is singing the Canticle of Strengthening on the wards, the locks and the doors. Our faith in the machine remains resolute - as do our defences ++

Eirick nodded. It wasn't one hundred percent assurance, true, but it was enough, for now. They knew the place, intimately, as the purest kind of temple but they understood that it had begun to be defiled, specifically by the presence of the beasts in the Sanctum Wing. But now, the problem had become more pervasive than that. It had become a war for ground, for sanity, for humanity - there were beasts loose on all of the floors, in every area, that could not be contained and they posed a threat to the machine spirit of Fahrech. Eirick knew he would have to lead a purge out and through the station - but how long did he have to prepare? That was an incalculable variable at this time. The combat servitors had all been retrofitted with bigger, more brutal weapons. The mining servitors were all receiving the blessings of the Ominissah-in-Rage - they were days away from being ready.

The thing that worried Magos Eirick was the creeping dread that all those around him were slowly becoming more paranoid, more delusional and were quite simply forgetting the lessons of the Ominissah. Eirick took a look at the data slate readout implanted into one of his servo-arms. The majority of the data was streaming through, and for the most part, it was a good picture. Preparations were going well, there was little to worry about. Security was tightening, the servitors were all being retrofitted with weapons and ammunition stocks were as high as they could be, without compromising storage of essential nutrients, oils and other holy equipment. The only concern that niggled him was the unpredictability of the daemon, and its interactions with the holy machine. For certain, the daemon did not understand the delicate rituals or the required ministration of the machines, but for some damned unquantifiable variable, they were able to pervert the machine to their will, and that irked Eirick, and if he was being truly honest, it terrified him as well.

++ Re-double all of the checks, and recant all of the rituals. They will come for us, and we must purge them. ++

* * * *

Hydroponics Bays, Hope is the Last Resort of the Insane

Maya Tlaltcuhtli sighed loudly, and looked around her. The wheat had grown exceptionally long, longer than they'd been expecting during the year, and it was ripe for harvest. The outbreak of fires had soon put paid to that. More than that, the various deaths, strangely of starvation, in the workers back in the hab-bays had been another freak occurence that had unnerved Maya. Her husband had been taken away by one of the purgation squads, accused of heresy most foul and witchery. Maya hadn't dared to try and fight against the purgation squad. She'd simply held her child close to her chest and watched helplessly. She didn't understand why he'd been accused of the crime - only recently, her husband had gotten warding tattoos on his back and arms to ward against the darkness that was surely creeping throughout the station.

Her breath was slow, sharp, jagged as she stalked through the high grass. Each rustle was like a shocking explosion of sound. The rows of crops seemed to go in a linear direction, both ahead and behind her, for what looked like infinity. There was a horrible thick black smoke in the air, that stung Maya's eyes and her nostrils as well. She staggered backwards, down the thin gap between lines of crops, uncertain of what she was running from and not sure where she was running to. She staggered, falling over a few jagged rocks in the soil and she continued onwards all the time uncertain. Pure fear drove her on, fear of fire - it was primal, and her flight response put adrenaline through her heart, her blood and her brain correcting all her footing mistakes for her as she dashed through the fields.

Crops blurred beside her as she fled.

And then, she glanced ahead, and stopped dead in her tracks.

Fear embodied rose before her. It was one of her fellow agri-workers, badly burnt and almost definitely dead simply from the pain and shock. However, as Maya watched horrified, she saw that half of his head cavity had been emptied, possibly by a bullet, maybe by his own hands ragging at his burning flesh. It looked as if the flesh had been dragged out of his eye, resulting in a blood trail and mess that slicked down the burn ruined flesh of his face. His arm was hanging by thin threads of burnt flesh that were blackened and tight. As the corpse attempted to stand up, Maya panicked, not sure of which direction to dash in. She could go back - but, for all she knew, back that way the fire lay. In front of her lay her worst fear, the reanimated dead. Emperor's bones rest her and calm her, she repeated over and over under her breath.

She checked about her person, noting only that, besides her baby and a few dry packed pieces of meat, she only had her reaping iron to protect herself. It was a sturdy, sickle shaped tool, well designed to allow her to take a few stalks of wheat from the crop and assess how close to harvest they were - she had been doing that earlier in the day. She hefted the blade in her hand, noting it was well weighted and easy in her hand. She allowed herself a few steps further forwards, still testing the blade in her hands.

She could fight the dead, she reasoned - she could not fight fire. With pure terror in her heart, she advanced.

* * * *

Nemesis Tessera

"Kartheim, listen," said the old man, unable to keep up with the younger Inquisitor, "Just listen, will you throne damn it!"

The rasping reedy voice suddenly hardened, and Kartheim stopped, more out of surprise than respect.

"Listen to me Kartheim. You cannot become obsessed with this - we've extended your Sanction but you must be wary! This daemon has cunning magicks... It is clear it is a devilish wretch, one of pure trickery and deceptiopn. Throne knows what horrors will await you - prepare yourself before you go, recant your steeling exercises, and re-new your faith in the chapel. It will ready you well for the journey ahead. Killim is not a pleasant planet, it is a chemical wasteland desert with only a few large settlements there. We caught up with the traders who brought that box here. They're in with the interrogators now-"

"Why am I not involved?" hiss Kartheim, his hands clearly itching at the thought of his work.

"Because they're co-operating... Kartheim, you must listen and heed what I say. Do not chase this daemon, do not let it lead you in a merry dance. It will destroy you, it will eat you if you are not careful. Review the interrogation vids, and note any pertinent details. Be mindful of what it tells you - it will be a myriad and maze of deceit and lies. And do not spend any more time than is necessary with it Kartheim. Kill it, and do it quickly."

Kartheim nodded, turned and left the old Inquisitor rasping deep breaths. He wouldn't listen, the old man thought, and what pains that might visit upon Richter's life, skin and soul - he didn't want to contemplate. Still, he had done his part. Richter had adequate warning.

* * * *

The Warp, a few days out from Fahrech

Aw'cer sighed and rubbed his eyes. He wasn't sure what time it was and how many hours he had spent now simply reading and researching. In front of him were a myriad of notes, each grouped into themes, ideas or notable suggestions and locations. Nothing was occuring to him, through the web and the links. It concerned Aw'cer that there was nothing concrete, no hooks, no proper suggestions as to what the Black Prince might be, what or where Babylon was and what Legion might be. Certainly, there were mentions of all three, but never in the same book or the same work. And they never seemed linked - see, over here the Black Prince was a leader of the Black Legion, a number of oblique references to Slaanesh and, on at least three occasions, a reference to a character in literature. Legion was always a daemon - but with no definite reference to what kind of daemon, any particular modus operandi, and worrying no descriptions or alignment. Babylon was, at once, three different planets at differing ends of the Imperium, an alleged sanctuary in the Eye of Terror for daemonic summoning, or a palacial district on Terra.

"None of it makes any sense," Aw'cer repeated under his breath, "And nothing links together."

He rubbed his eyes and yawned heavily. How long had he been up? And for a fruitless search? He would've slammed his fist in frustration, if his frail shaking frame would have allowed it with any sort of conviction. At least Agares had given up mocking him some significant length of time ago. Several of his cherubim lazed on the table, waiting for the order to return some of the texts back to their place in the libararium and get more. Aw'cer couldn't understand it - his personal library was huge, it was something he had compulsively added to over the years. Indeed, he'd been to several Inquisitorial holds to pick up some choice tomes to aid him in his research for this assignment.

Still, nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing!

Aw'cer petulantly cleared the desk of papers, books and notes in a great sweeping action, leaving the table empty. It was as if someone, or something, was working against him. His staff were mostly loyal, for the better part, because of Agares - they were loyal out of fear. The best kind of loyalty, Aw'cer musingly added. Agares - perhaps, Aw'cer would put nothing past the daemonhost but the bargain they had struck, if they were both honest, was mutually beneficial. No, it felt like something else was at play here, some unquantifiable force of nature, something that didn't want him to see the truth - and, if his fear of that kind of truly pervasive force in all this came true, then Aw'cer knew that this wasn't some small evil.

This was a true definition of primal evil.

* * * *

Have you ever seen those poor souls bound into the Golden Throne? They're dragged in there, minutes after the soul binding ritual has been enacted. The weaker ones don't even get that, they're just dragged in there, half dead off the Black Ship, confused and terrified.

Most of them will be half blind, mute, still screaming and mewling, covered in their own faeces and urine. Some of them barely have any clue what is going on, much less where they are. A fortunate few have stopped their thoughts altogether and become drooling catatonic messes. I say fortunate for a reason, because of what comes next. They're bound into the machine, and then slowly, and in excrutiating agony, they are slowly sucked dry of all life force. There are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of these poor individuals strapped into the machine at any one time. The cacophony of screaming in that place is horrendous. It is somewhat horrifically named the Chorus of Life, though for the screaming and the suffering in their voices, you would think that the Chorus of the Damned would be more fitting.

Do you know what happens when some of the Black Ships are delayed? You see, sometimes, because of the vagaries of the Warp, and because of the system, ships are delayed. Sometimes for a few hours, sometimes for a few days or longer. That means, for those poor wretches locked into the machine, they suffer for hours longer, days longer, than is necessary. They suffer because the very last scraps of life are dragged out of them, and the deeper the machine has to reach inside them, the more painful it becomes. As I said, the lucky ones are those who aren't lucid and capable of rational, conscious thought. There are those who are awake, alive and alert throughout every single second as the life is sucked out of them.

I looked into the eyes of one such mewling wreck, and saw complete and utter agony. The lesson I learnt was never delay, never stop, never relent. My duty, my life, the essential day to day tasks of being an Inquisitor.

And here I stand, a man amongst gods, playing amongst them like so many pieces on a chess board. If only the bishops could speak, if the kings and queens could know, if the pawns knew what immortal hands reach for them perhaps, just perhaps, I might know the game and I might escape its clutches.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2009, 10:41:57 AM by Dosdamt »
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Offline Dosdamt

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Re: Where Darkness Dwells
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2009, 02:57:37 PM »
Nimo’s breath sallied forth from his lips, in an attempt to warm his fingers. He had been leaning against that same pillar for over an hour now. A bird cawed in the sick-yellow sky. A tramp collapsed not too far away. Nimo tried rubbing his hands together. He glanced at the large glass clock hanging a few hundred yards away. It displayed five different versions of the time; only two of which Nimo possessed the faintest inkling of understanding of. ‘Ship Time’ as the time usually used on journeys between planets was often called wasn’t of much use here.

It was at times like this he wished smoked. It would give him something to do while he waited. Also, he might have been able to warm his hands with the lighter. He heard footsteps around him.

“Long time.”

“That it has been,” Nimo replied turning. The man stood before him had long hair and a beard that resembled an overgrown mat. He wore a dirty fur coat wrapped tightly around him, and his dirty fingers could be seen peeking out of tattered fingerless-gloves. The top of a bottle peeked out of a pocket.

The pair began to stroll towards the underpass. When they reached it Nimo spoke again.

“I’m looking for an arc. One of a kind.”

“Ah. I’m a thinking I just might know a man who can point you in the right direction. Knows all about arc’s he does. As long as you can tells me what I needs.”

“I can. Your brother’s been captured. Brought back here, stuck in a prison on the third moon. Details in here.” Nimo handed over an envelope, his fingers leaving dirty marks behind.

“The man’s in the same city as every over man you ever want me to set you up with. You can find him at the Dancing Pigeon, ask for a house special and tell them I said it was good. You’d be amazed at how many people are interested in arcs.”

They continued talking, small talk mainly. When they got to the end of the underpass, they thanked each other and parted. Just another two friendly tramps in a glass city.
 
****

The Librarium: Truth Is The First Casualty Of War

A single candle flickered in the darkness, casting its feeble light over a lectern and vaguely outlining three massive rows of books. Nothing disturbed the sacred quietude of the library, not even the old pages that were meant to rustle slightly as they slid along each other, folded, and then met their opposite number as they were turned over and over, the pages progressing almost without end.

The ventilator gargoyles were silent even as they sucked in stale air and pumped fresh oxygen into the vast chamber, their ugly faces forever warped into silent screams.

A servo-skull dutifully hovered, an incense burner hanging beneath it on a chain looped through a bracket on its upper jaw. And yet it made no sound when the chain should have jangled faintly and the servo-skull's motor should have whirred quietly.

No background noise in spite of such ongoing diligence.

Just silence.

A lone figure sat hunched over the candle as it drooled wax. Naked and alone, the figure betrayed no emotion, perfectly composed and poring over empty pages of vellum, bound inside a blank book.

Fingers danced across the clean pages and left dark streaks in their wake, forming bizarre patterns at random. They glowed faintly as various abstract shapes completed themselves, illuminating the figure for the briefest of moments.

Whoever the figure had been, he had been male, and he had been blinded and flayed alive. Every nerve in his body was ablaze, and yet he could feel no pain from his horrific mutilation.

He closed the book and with his right hand, he clutched it tightly to his chest. Holding his left hand in the candle flame, the figure mouthed something silently and the bloody streaks in the book ignited, setting the book itself on fire without a sound.  

And then the figure spoke, giggling madly in his insanity.

"H-H-He is comi-i-i-ing," the figure spluttered, trying vainly to speak through fits of laughter. "M-m-my lo-o-o-ord, he i-i-is c-c-coming!"

The built-up noise of time uncounted exploded outwards in a cacophany of sound as Davide disintegrated in a grisly puddle of blood and cooked meat.

Soon, a cleaning servitor came along and made sure that there wasn't even as much as that left of him.

****

Gains hung in the blackness, watching the cold bulk of Fahrech burn from within.

It had been explained as an optical channelling effect of the atmosphere between the station and the sun. It had been described by Gnomen as the tendency for the light to remain within the medium as it passed along the surface of the planet.

It was clear to Stobek that it was a flaming warning.

The crassly named shuttle of the Van Rachen’s made cramped quarters for the fifty people aboard, but life was bearable. Stobek had secured private quarters for himself, and for Jayna. Harris had joined the squads camped in the cargo bay, the third of the first of the Carten Fourth or some such unlikely sounding assembly. The academic arm of his staff were in a pair of the larger rooms, quietly isolated from the rest of the ship, while the technician had taken to the cubbyhole apparently present in every engineering zone. His astropath had lost himself in the isolated depths of the other end of the ship, away from the hard minds of the military contingent.

Harris always seemed to get along well with people of a military mindset. They shared a straightforward pragmatism, though it seemed to Stobek that they approached the position from different angles – Harris’ optimistic spiritualistic resignation rarely clashed with the conflict-instilled talent for acceptance. Yardman Harris had been requisitioned from a construction field on Roston, a largely agricultural world that had need of great ships to move produce from the continental fields to the large archipelago shuttleports that ringed the planet. He was thin, and not muscular, but unreasonably strong for his size. He had intervened in a running battle to pull through the detention of several suspects.

Harris had saved Stobek’s life from the guns of seven traders armed with surprise and an iron bar. Stobek had taken him from his crippling work in the yards and towed him across a dozen worlds since.

Stobek’s academic cadre had been collected in a similar, if less physical, fashion over the preceding decade. Despite this he remained only acquaintances, not friends, as it was usually his handlers that controlled the official exchanges at that point. They were rarely suited to normal social interactions anyway. Gnomen was his only friend among his sages, and was one of Stobek’s few personal selections. He explained, summarised, extrapolated on a level that Stobek could understand, and was valued for it.  

His isolated astropath, so far known only by title, was much as Stobek had come to expect. Introverted and otherworldly, Stobek disliked dealing with the lot of them, avoiding it whenever he could. Astropathic communication was only when strictly necessary.

His technician was a gift from his handler when they had been elevated in different directions, as a seed of Stobek’s first pool of skilled agents. His name was only half remembered, harsh sounding and full of consonants, preferring to be referred to as ‘technician’ or some similar. This was standard for those that thought the machines made them holy, said Harris.

The Cartens kept to the hold, gymnasium and training facilities installed while aboard Leander’s merchantman. The senior officer had spoken to Stobek, telling him the men were dependable and competent, but unsettled by certain specifics of the selection procedure. Stobek had developed his unflappable conversation facade among the angry brutal workers of his home city, and eventually the man left mildly frustrated but apparently no more worried than when he had come in.

The crew were non-entities, a skeleton compliment of half a dozen required to run the systems, occasional aid provided by the technician or one or two of the more physically minded sages. Their officer too had been to see him, but only to make his face known. It had been made clear that nothing was expected from the crew but piloting and upkeep of the shuttle. Both parties were content with the agreement.

Mennius Leander had been troublesome after the initial agreement had been made. The first days of transit had been fine, Stobek taking dinner with the captain but maintaining what he thought was appropriate distance from him. Despite attempts to rectify the situation, Leander extracted no promises of Inquisitorial patronage from Stobek. Resigned he might be to it when necessary, but Stobek still didn’t like acting the Inquisitor.

Aside from this, he’d been becoming increasingly uncomfortable with his objectives, the more he thought about Vahen’s agent Domonechz’ message. Mentions of questioning daemons, rioting station populations and responding violent suppression. The silence afterward. The request that his resources be tested, blessed and cleansed. The order, in fact. There was little else to work with, except the hanging sense of impending doom Stobek had grown used to living with since before he had met Ro, decades ago.

This had peaked upon the reception of the message from Fahrech, the vision of horror that had been Inquisitor Vahen’s colleague Inquisitor Domonechz, now a bloody ruin of a man.

The conviction of insanity behind the voice had scrawled the message across the inside of Stobek’s eyes, a bloody ruin vomiting prophesy of ruination and bloodletting, the death of a legion at the bidding of a dark prince. The details were hazy, veiled behind a mist of blood and upwelling fear.

That mist of blood had become a river, a flood, as Domonechz had broken before the camera. Speaking of secrets, gates, escape, he had wept and vomited blood until the clotted filth had obscured his features entirely. Great scratches and gashes tore his face; his eyes were ragged sockets and no more; viscera caked him from fingertip to elbow.

Stobek sat in silence is his quarters and chewed at his thumb, worrying the patchy skin that had suffered the abuse for the week since the message had been received. Plans to rendezvous with Inquisitor Vasilli Domonechz had been indefinitely postponed, Gain hanging in the void as Stobek quietly panicked for each of the nineteen hours of the shuttle’s day. His six hours of darkness brought nothing but the waiting fear, ascending to new heights as Stobek sank into the endless depths of exhausted unconsciousness.

Harris had been to see him several times, to attempt to calm him. He had offered some of his leaves to substitute for the thumb Stobek had been using, some form or chewing tobacco to calm him down. Stobek had declined, fully aware of the narcotics use rife on Roston and not believing Harris had made any effort, or indeed seen any reason, to cease such practises – he was being driven out of his mind as it was, the fear needed no help in that department.

Harris had also told him that, in the remains of the day cycle that the Inquisitorial task force had still been on Mennius Leander’s Intrepid Venturer, news of the message had spread from the bridge crew down the strata and to much of the rest of the ship’s population. Harris’ knack for knowing these things was a function of his relaxed charm and accepting nature, and he had fitted in among the crew population immediately. It was in no small part due to this that Stobek had had him assigned to every personal mission he could – there were few he trusted as solidly as Harris to test the waters and surface not only healthy but happy and with bed, board and breakfast for his ground team.

The message had clearly captured the imaginations of the more impressionable crew members, as tales of daemons dismembering children and drinking the aortal blood as it geysered across the view screen. Even Stobek's contingent of Imperial Guard had heard as much. Such tales were not dissimilar to Stobek’s expectations of the station.

Within minutes of the broadcast being played, Mennius announced that the shuttle had been fuelled, blessed and readied. Those damages that might have unfortunately delayed departure until well past dinner had miraculously been rectified by an inspired young mechanic, soon to be promoted, no doubt, Mennius would have his eye on him, Kasimir, depend upon it, promising young fellow, but it would mean that the Inquisitorial set could leave at their earliest convenience, whenever they so wished.

Stobek had been painfully aware that Leander had fabricated all sorts of repairs and rite to be performed, with the aim of securing just a little more time to converse over such matters as an enormous cash payment, or exclusive trading rights, or absolution for a few past misdemeanours in a couple of wealthy systems.

Leander’s – Mennius’, he really must call him such – grating over-familiarity, his use of Stobek’s first name, long and bawdy tales of fools ripped off and fortunes made and lost, had left him with no desire to dine with him then or for any of the other half dozen times he simply had not been able to avoid it.

The parting of ways had been strained, Leander in a rush to get these unfortunate souls and their dangerous path as far from his own as possible, Stobek in no mood to be anything more than civil to the ingratiating tit. Leander would pass back through the Fahrech system after a set time, to pick them up if need be, or his ship would be hunted by every fleet Stobek could persuade Vahen to set after the task.

Throughout the whole affair, Jayna had remained aloof, making no effort to interact with either the captain or Stobek. She had simply said, stepping into and then out of Stobek’s quarters soon after breaking into realspace, that the correct decision had been made, and preparations should begin.

Stobek sat chewing his thumb. Jayna and Vahen had said there would be other parties involved, other Inquisitors. Stobek would sit, wait for them, chew his thumb.
It is never too late! - Mentirius

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Offline Dosdamt

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Re: Where Darkness Dwells
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2009, 02:59:58 PM »
 I once sat in meditation for three days, fasting, without food and water. When I came around at the end, sleepless, delirious with hunger and dehydration, I immediately took my quill and began to scribe.

Somewhere between the dreams of a god,
And the filthy ambition of mortal men,
Where the light is filtered by ambiguity,
And the stars wane for infinite ambition
Where the confusion of sins is the slaughter of innocence,
When the light fades,
A lesson is learnt of where darkness dwells.

I had no idea at that junction what those words might mean. I was young and naïve, I hadn’t seen the flood of horrors the galaxy has to offer. Now I see what they mean.

Babylon didn’t hold the answers. But it certainly gave them context.


* * * *

In the shadow of the night Nimo stood against the underpass, above him the rattling freight trains going to, and from, the hive carrying massive piles of either food or waste, he waited. His contact was late – and not just five innocent terran standard, he was running a good forty minutes late. That made Nimo nervous. He looked again at his watch, letting time slip away before his eyes. The vox noise made him jump.

“The graveyard is consecrated!”

Throne. That meant his contact was probably dead. It meant the site was compromised, which meant the meeting wouldn’t go ahead.

“The living dead are within the fencing… Damn it, Nimo, get out!”

The noise startled him. They were coming in from every direction, and they were armed well – whoever they were. Nimo could hear the whine of hellguns charging from their hotshot packs. The morbid clunk-click of combat shotguns chilled Nimo, and then the worst – the horrific vox distorted horror of cyberhounds.

Nimo didn’t even think – his legs acted before his conscious mind could decide on the best course of action, and he ran. Behind him he heard metallic paws grinding against the plascrete, which only spurred him on. The old train yards were like an elephant’s graveyard, filled with old metal behemoths that had come there to die. Rusted and ancient, they decayed slowly without the proper attention to keep them in working order.

He wanted enough time to study them, to ransack them – no doubt there would be valuables aboard the old wrecks, enough salvage parts for his vessel, perhaps, but for now he had to keep moving. The hounds were relentless – he could hear their shrill metallic barks behind him, deep and bass ridden. The very worse, though, was the sense these creatures were catching, and quickly. The thudding steps came closer with every train he fled past, and the noise came ever louder, ever quicker until he felt like he could feel the heat from the mouths of the dogs on the back of his legs.

He glanced, and in his horror, he realised they were only a few seconds from reaching him. He turned his head and jumped as one of the creatures leapt at him. His hands gripped a horizontal pole above his head, which allowed him to swing upwards and avoid the gnashing teeth. He twisted to avoid the second and kicked the third as it leapt, forcing it to crash into the side of one of the giant dead trains. The first hound had recovered its ill fated leap, and came back around, skidding in mud as it struggled for grip due to its weight, but turning back on the rogue trader. The second had skittered into a pile of debris and struggled under the weight to free itself.

Nimo turned, aiming his pistol. He squared the sight with the approaching metal canine horror and shot with admirable accuracy, taking away the ears, eyes and front left leg of the construct with a short sharp volley of shots. It was a risk – but now, he had to take it. It may help his pursuers to zero in on his position, but the terrible dogs could tear off his legs and so the elimination of the immediate threat was the only sane option.

The second hound had now pulled itself free from the debris, only to receive a hard kick in its side by an airborne leap by Nimo, who landed heavily leaving his boot on the side of the head of the snapping creature. Nimo unloaded three shots into the side of dog, leaving its metallic wired innards splayed inside out.

Now, there were just the pursuers to worry about. Nimo touched his vox bead, hoping for inspiration.

“Seeking safe harbour… Any options…”

A static hiss greeted him. Nimo looked all around – he was deep into the graveyard now, and the old trains were perhaps two to three storeys of rusting metal falling to pieces. They were probably blocking the signal, even a short range vox communication, which disturbed him – he wouldn’t have his eyes, which meant that here in the darkness of the rusting scrap yard, he was probably all alone.

* * * *

Adeptus Mechanicus Quarter, Fahrech – There Are Ghosts in Every Machine

Eirick nervously thumbed his gun from safe to armed, safe to armed, safe to armed. The screaming at the door had died down now. They had been forced to seal one of the corridors off to save the facility from… Whatever was outside the door – there had been screaming, shouting, shrieking, and then scratching, desperate and concerted, against the steel. Then silence. Cold, hard silence – and it was that much more than the inhuman horror in the voices of the suffering that had disconcerted Eirick so severely. 

His mechandrites snaked to the safety catches of the heavy weapons servitors, powered them down slowly, leaving them on motion tracking burst fire. If anything came through the door, it would be cut into shreds by a hail of bolter fire.

Eirick turned, walking back into the centre of the facility. It had been a few weeks since he had decided to finally lock down the quarter. Slowly, supplies were dwindling, but there had been no sign of a rescue vessel from the nearest forge world, Vassil, and until the vessel arrived they couldn’t be certain of being able to venture out of the quarters. But they still had enough supplies to last another few months, though water would probably become an issue. He made a mental note to ration the water appropriately, which one of his mechandrites scribbled onto a data slate.

Yet there was a strange unease in the quarter. Things… Things had not been efficient. Clean. Easy. There had been difficulties with a few of the close combat servitors. One had even activated the purgator patterns without the authorisation codes. They had been forced to exterminate the servitor, and lost another in the process. It was pointless waste of resource. Then there were the arguments with some of the aggressive Skitarii on station. They wanted to venture into the station, purge and cleanse the station of the weakness of human flesh. It was pointless in Eirick’s opinion, due to them not even knowing what lay beyond. That left the tactical calculations wildly unpredictable.

Strangely, the Magos-Maintenanus took a vote on the matter, one which Eirick only won by the smallest of margins. The Skitarii stook by the verdict, though Eirick detected a thin veil of anger at the lack of ambition and pro-activity. The Magos declined to comment. Eirick felt perhaps that his friends in the quarter were thinning.

Still, he was the Magos-Militant on this operation and he was not prepared to be overruled on the necessity of action. He let his cogitators stay idle running combat simulations in some of the tunnels in Fahrech – the choke points, the various killzones. 

He would need the data later.

* * * *

Hydroponics Bay, Hope is the Last Refuge of the Insane

Maya stalked as quietly as she dared through the long wheat. There was no way she could be certain where the things were hiding anymore. Most of them appeared to have stopped groaning, a dead giveaway before – now they seemed to just lurch and hiss, as if some tainted grip over them had faded. The last set she had encountered had bitten and clawed at her without a sound or even the breathlessness of exertion.

They just came at her relentlessly until she had been covered in ichor and filth. And then it had happened – the straps on her baby carrier on her chest had broken – before her eyes, in one great mouthful, one of them had bitten her child. The baby was clearly dead as the teeth tore through the neck of her beautiful boy.

She had become frenzied at that point, hacking and chopping and kicking until everything around her was just a bloodied ruin. When she saw the broken body of her child she had passed out from the shock.

When she came around, she began to move silently on.

Death stalked this place. She continually repeated eulogies of praise and determination to the Emperor under her breath, praying she would get through the absolute horror of this place. Above her, the dim light of the dwarf star of Fahrech barely illuminated the hydroponics bay. Her exhausted limbs pained every step she took onwards through the bays.

Overhead, the lights that replicated pure sunlight were flickering in and out of life. The power to the hydroponics bays was beginning to die – interesting, because that had been the first stage of the emergency shut downs. She kept moving through the fields. Each step was a titanic effort, one that left her significantly more fatigued than the last. In her mind only one thought kept her moving – an irrational pure, psychotic thirst for revenge.

The first pack of the strange creatures she found fell before her like yielding grass. She descended upon them with shot after shot of the most addictive of stimulants powering from her adrenal glands. She fought like a hellion, cutting through them in a wave of destruction. She dismembered limbs from their torsos, heads from necks, and hands from arms. One attempted to grab at her, but failed to catch hold properly allowing her a thick upwards swipe that disembowelled the creature. Another tried to swipe at her with thick, black claws which missed, allowing Maya to cut the creatures arm off at the elbow. Her blade was as sharp as her adrenal driven senses.

Overhead, eyes watched fascinated by the violence, as innocent as a child, as ancient as revenge - as implacable as the marching hordes that approached Maya from every direction.

* * * *

The Library, Truth is the First Casualty of War

It first began a few months before the trouble started on Fahrech. It was subtle at first; as the library began to fill with tomes that seemed to speak or at the least whisper in a ghostly tome, or others bound in human skin, and others yet which were in an indecipherable script, began to move around in the library. Initially it was just a few inches on the same shelf. The scribes in the library knew that such… titles were wont to do such things, and thought nothing more of it. They re-arranged the books and ensured they were in place, in order and available.

Then the books started to drift to other shelves. No one saw the books move – they simply did. They began moving amongst other shelves on the same bookcase, and then to other shelves on other bookcases, and then to the other side of the library altogether. Again, the scribes thought nothing of this and ignored it, simply clearing up after the books and ensuring that the books were in place.

This persisted for a few weeks. Then, when the riots first started, things began to get worse. Periodically entire bookshelves would begin to move – and not simply just one or two, but the entire library would re-arrange. Sections would move and books would mix amongst sections, resulting in the library becoming disorganised and difficult to arrange. Vasilli had come to the library when investigating the psychic phenomena across the station, and compared to some of the other occurrences he had been relatively unconcerned. The books weren’t alive at least, or chasing the scribes – what was the issue?

The scribes were here to maintain the library and ensure that it was in good order – if that took a little more time and hard effort, so be it. The scribes took the word of Vasilli at face value and continued to correct the disruption.

However, it was when some of the books isolated in stasis chambers began to move around the library that things began to degrade significantly. The rooms almost seemed to warp and change shape. Every few hours, something would shift and change. Some of the walls appeared to bow and bend. Others seemed transparent, even those which looked out into space. The doors between the different chambers of the library would simply disappear and reappear in the ceiling or on the floor; sometimes not at all.

By this time, of course, the station had descended into absolute madness. The scribes in the library suffered similarly at the hands of a floating, malevolent figure. The daemonhost swept into the library almost immediately after the security had been disabled. The host fled into the library and all of the doors locked, leaving it isolated and alone in the shadows of the giant book cases.

The scribes were then systematically tortured, brutalised and driven insane. One was torn apart into a skinless, bloody mess after the floor erupted into a flood of tentacles, which flayed him alive leaving his leaking naked flesh visible to all around. The tentacles, which were long, rangy and covered in vicious hooks and teeth, then pulled him apart slowly, taking chunks of muscle and ripping at the bones exposing bone marrow, leaving him screaming before his consciousness in an act of mercy finally fled his body at which point he was torn in half, flushing his innards onto the floor with a wet tearing sound.

Another had all of the whispering voices of the books funnelled directly into her skull – she began to scream at the horror of the constant chatter in her head and tore her ears off. This did not relieve the constant noise, but the pain shut her mind down for some hours. Any respite was preferable to the scratching, itching voices in her head. A further scribe suffered at the actual hands of the daemonhost, who swept up the fragile, thin scribe and dislocated all the joints of the scribe, leaving him a paralyzed mewling mess unable to move or even crawl. The host, Mahziel, took great delight in using the broken scribe as a ragdoll, throwing the man psychically from wall to wall as he screamed in absolute agony. Whenever he passed out the host would simply inject a shot of adrenaline which shot his consciousness back to his living nightmare.

In the cargo entrance that lead into the library, Mahziel had committed the worst atrocity – he flayed nine of the scribes alive, and left their bodies on pikes in the bay that lead into the library area, but with the foulest of sorcery Mahziel ensured that the bodies were still alive writhing on the pikes. He had cut away their eyelids, lips, smashed their teeth, removed their ears with his cruel claws, cut off nine of their fingers and toes, and pulled out their tongues. These, along with the skin, he arranged around the bay, laughing a high pitched keening giggle as he did so. Those on the pikes wailed indistinctly, constantly bleeding in indeterminable agony.

* * * *

In the bleak void of space I watch and wait. Time is ticking and I am patient enough to watch this little opera unfold. I am fond of the greatest of tragedies. I enjoy watching our heroes fall, because inevitably we are all destined to fall. It is what we do at our peak, what great impregnable good we commit in the short time we have with our peak powers that influences how we should be remembered.

I once thought I had reached the peak of my prowess and I accepted that from that point I would suffer degradation in my ability.

How wrong I had been.

In the bleak void of space I watch and wait. Time is ticking, and I am patient enough to watch my greatest plan unfold before me. What great horror I might inflict will outweigh the consequences of this great work. When I first tamed the beast – or at least chained it to my will – I knew I had committed an impregnable good for it still had that insatiable appetite.

I once thought I would never learn the reality of my role in all of this confusion and mayhem and I accepted that perhaps I would go unfulfilled.

How wrong I had been.

In the bleak void of space I watch and wait. Time is ticking, and I am patient enough to watch my greatest plan unfold before me.
It is never too late! - Mentirius

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Offline Dosdamt

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Re: Where Darkness Dwells
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2009, 03:00:49 PM »
Nimo ran. He wasn’t quite sure where. Not that he much choice. He could hear them. Whoever they were, they definitely weren’t larking about; and he was getting deeper into this maze. Hopefully he could lose them in here, but he doubted it. He also expected they could see through this dark. He however, couldn’t; and through it and his fear the looming skeleton trains appeared as malevolent spectres. The adrenaline had given him wings, but they wouldn’t save him if he crashed into a rusted spike. He wanted to slow, to stop; but he could still hear them behind him, if it wasn’t his imagination. Not worth taking the chance. He drove deeper into the maze.


He was hopelessly lost now. He had to think, to clear his head, to think. He ground to a halt. The air was alive around him. He shook so slightly, so fast, almost imperceptibly so. He couldn’t hear them here. His fingers found his charm and gripped it.

Think.

As far as he could remember, the trains’ graveyard had only one entrance. Right now he had no idea where that was, and he was pretty sure his would-be killers where between him and it. If he could find the fencing, there were probably holes in it. Hopefully, maybe. It was mostly sheer wall at the back though. He’d be truly lost then, and he had to assume that his pursuers knew this area far better then him.

As he saw it, that left him only one option. He continued along the avenue, plascrete slipping past under his feet. Then he saw what he was looking for. The side of the train had buckled and bent. Bits of junk lay around it. He began to climb. Feet found purchase, hands found holds. He reached the top and lay flat, breathing heavy. The rust felt cold under him.

Nimo waited, nervous. He pulled out his plastic las-pistol, checked the pack was charged. Raising slightly, he surveyed what he could. He could see no-one, but he could faintly hear them. He began to crawl along the top of the train.

Out of the darkness appeared a figure. Nimo froze.

The figure had spiked hair, cut to look like spikes on a reptiles back. Accompanied by the seemingly gaudy scarf, colour dulled by lack of light, wrapped round nose and mouth - this gave a picture of a rough and ready ganger, not really caring. While dangerous, not professional. The dark combat fatigues, the way she moved, the poise with which she carried her body all painted a different picture. What scared him most however where the goggles which covered her eyes.

Nimo barely breathed as she walked past. He knew he was lucky that she hadn’t cast a glance his way. If he hadn’t been scared enough before, he was now. There was no doubt in his mind that his would be killers could see perfectly. That they were well equipped. He crept on. Within a couple of minutes another figure appeared. Visored face, hell gun in hand. Nimo froze again, praying to any benevolent semi or proper deity.

Static hissed from his vox bead. “The bird has landed. Are you in the graveyard?”

Throne. The figure was looking up at him. Whatever frequency that visor was using it seemed to have done the trick. The hellgun came up. Nimo rolled off the other side of the train. He crashed into the ground with a horrible thud, just as the roof of the train where he had been lying came apart in a hail of light. Pulling the air back into his lungs he spoke into the vox bead, “Lost in the graveyard. Lost in the graveyard!” Then he sprang up, and ran.

Super-charged las almost warmed his shoulder. His palms sweated. He would have sprayed fire from his pistol behind him, but he didn’t trust himself not to drop the pistol. He heard a shout. Doubtless they would all be bearing down on him now.

He slipped round a corner barely righting himself. He crashed. They went over in a tangle of limbs. His pistol went off. He felt warm blood on his arms. Not his. Separating himself, he saw it was the woman in the goggles. He swiped them. As he righted himself, she grabbed his leg. He blew her face in.

Nimo ran on. The was a shotgun blast from somewhere in the distance. He could only hope that meant help had arrived, and not just disappeared. He stopped struggling with the goggles. They were on.

****

I can't exactly say I enjoy being bound in this corpse.

None of us would.

He stinks of Imperial piety, and with such a high level of blood pressure I'm surprised he didn't keel over and die from a heart attack.

But that's not quite so important.

I'm here now, and the Bloodgorger can always have me replaced. For all I know he probably has.

And attending the Inquisitor, although arguably distasteful, satisfies my curiosity of the mortal realm well enough and allows me to practice Khorne's... lesser martial forms. War is an art form in itself, and a true artist must know all the techniques of his craft.

I remember the day I met him, but let me fill you in on this body's history first.

The body was one of Aw'cer's old masters, a rather over-zealous old swine by the name of Dakarai Khama. He is... was one of those Monodominants. He trained Aw'cer for a few years, then passed him on to an associate. Once Aw'cer had become a full Inquisitor in his own right, it took a while for him to cultivate his own interest in occult matters and eventually Khama cottoned onto this.

I've apparently reconnected a few loose synapses in this brain, because I don't imagine all of them were working when Khama worked it all out. Or perhaps he wasn't exactly well-liked among his peers. Maybe it was shame.

Whatever the case, Khama set off to hunt down Aw'cer without notifying anybody else of Aw'cer's apparent heresy. Naturally, Khama was outwitted.

I don't know exactly for how long Khama was Aw'cer's prisoner. I'm going by Khama's own memories and he was never made aware of how much time had passed between his capture and his death.

And another thing I don't exactly fancy telling you is how I was shut up inside this body. You'll only get ideas and try it for yourself. You might even get lucky, and then I'll have competition for Aw'cer.

More than likely, you'll do something wrong and then I won't ever have the satisfaction of eating you.

Aw'cer got it a bit wrong anyway, you know.

I think he must have been trying to summon something bigger than little old me, or maybe something a little less intelligent. And I also think he was hoping for something temporary. He's a terrible one for getting things wrong, even in spite of all those books he reads.

Instead of what he wanted, well, we all know what happened there.

I, naturally, was a bit unimpressed by Aw'cer's shenanigans. I lashed out and killed three of his menials with the chains he had used in the binding process. Their blood wasn't exactly the best I've ever tasted, but it served its purpose.

I wanted to do the same to Aw'cer, but I didn't.

I remember he was rather interested. Not afraid, or laughing like the last melodramatic clown that summoned me.

Just... interested.

And that interested me.

I wasn't too impressed when I found out that I was going to become his lab rat, but in the end, we struck a bargain that suits both of us rather nicely.

I work with him and kill for him. In return, I get to feed and take heads, and he gets to take notes. Ultimately, I don't really care much whom I kill, and if leaving Aw'cer alive really does pay off as he said it would, I'm not exactly going to complain.

There's more to my art than mere bloodshed, after all.
 
****

The marker buoy would serve the purpose of announcing Vahen's presence to all those in the vicinity of the station.

Stobek had approached Jayna with the idea of leaving some form of official message announcing the presence of the Inquisition. She had given her permission for the mission, though he had the feeling that she was just happy to let him occupy himself in some vaguely gainful way - she was letting him run around to tire himself out and sleep well, rather than leave him stewing in his own anxieties.

He had recorded the message himself, then removed it, fearing that the obvious lack of practised authority would make the venture seem weak to anyone in the know who should happen across it.

He'd approached the captain of his Guard contingent, and had Marken Berren record it instead. His tones of quiet authority now cycled through the void around the station, at an amplitude set to attenuate a day's travel short of the furthest warp-emergence point spotted by Stobek's Astropath. No traveller seeking the station would arrive unaware of their presence here.

Stobek's reservations about advertising their presence, that it might forewarn enemies, allow them to arm themselves or build a disguise, were dismissed as unnecessary. Jayna told him she had left sensor buoys floating in the void at a perimeter that covered more local space than there was any point watching. Jayna would know about anything entering the Fahrech system before they'd even got their bearings - and would react accordingly.

The talk with Berren had gone well. It was one of the few conversations that hadn't felt like an interview to Stobek, and it seemed the same for the captain. He was a reserved soul, but clearly competent and intelligent. It had amused Stobek how stereotypically propaganda-poster perfect he seemed when placed alongside the stupid, lazy officers or suspicious and uncommunicative squad leaders he'd dealt with in the past.

Berren's calm and confident voice carried the perfect tone of measured authority - Stobek briefly amused himself with the thought of acquiring him just to do his public speaking for him. No doubt Jayna would be less than impressed.

Berren assured him that the men of the third of the first of the Carten Fourth were ready and willing to do any duties. There seemed to have been little notice taken of the last-minute rumours of bloodshed and daemonic prowlings that had spread from the Venture's crew in the last moments before separation. Good.

Stobek skirted around the details of what lay ahead, saying he didn't want to risk misinforming Berren. He suggested Berren run his men through urban combat drills, confined spaces warfare, regular sessions of meditation and prayer. The men must be at their very peak of physical, tactical and spiritual readiness, should a hostile invasion of Fahrech become necessary.

In truth, there was no plan other than to sit in space until Jayna pressed him into investigating the hellhole. Or perhaps until some more experienced or more aggressive authority appeared, willing to lead the charge into the unknown quantity that Fahrech had become.
****

Fahrech didn't seem particularly inviting when Aw'cer told me about it the first time.

I slowly gained interest in it the more I thought about it, until eventually I witnessed the horrifying carnal artistry on the station first-hand.

The sight of so much innocent blood spilled through the insanity of Fahrech's own people, and so much flesh rearranged in such a grisly spectacle, filled me with delight and excitement.

The journey there wasn't quite so interesting, though.

We were initially drawn there by the report of one of Aw'cer's agents. Davide was his name, a boring and unremarkable fellow who was nevertheless trustworthy.

His report had been so graphic and insane that Aw'cer felt that he simply had to investigate this mystery for himself.

Other agents had been sent there in Davide's wake, of course, but this was just so wrong that it warranted Aw'cer's attention, and my own.

Rycharde sent back images of ravaged bodies, the meat and bones ripped apart in arrangements pleasing to the Master of Skulls, before sending one final transmission: "IT BEGINS"

Rosheine never sent any coherent messages beyond her initial transmission stating that she'd arrived; things claiming to be from her simply amounted to befouled Warp static.

Patrycke started babbling about being trapped in a recurring nightmare; with each message he sent, it was as though he'd just woken up from a different nightmare, but he appeared to be trapped in a dream within a dream, each time telling us that he'd woken up only to be plunged headfirst into a new terror.

Sheivonne kept talking about a Revenant Choir before sending an audio file. I couldn't make any sense of it. I don't have a musical ear. Aw'cer went white like a ghost when he heard it, and refused to tell me anything about it.

Aw'cer eventually told me that he'd contacted someone called Jayna, but I didn't exactly find out much else aside from that. He said I wasn't supposed to know much more than that.

I countered by suggesting that he himself didn't know anything else. Turns out I was right.

We eventually got there, and looking around the ship I found a shuttle in an intact docking bay. This ship's falling to pieces and I would be very far from surprised if we left the keel fin behind at the system's edge together with whatever bits of the prow decided to fall off.

So eventually, we boarded this shuttle and took off, heading over to meet our contact.

And that, in itself, turned into something rather interesting.

But that's for another time. I'm hungry. I need blood.

Yours would be nice.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2009, 10:54:28 AM by Dosdamt »
It is never too late! - Mentirius

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Offline Dosdamt

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Re: Where Darkness Dwells
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2009, 10:57:12 AM »
Unknown Location, Galactic East

“Nimo, Nimo damn it! Here!”

He turned on his heels, roaring and sliding with the las pistol in his hands. The shotgun blast had been closer than he’d assumed a symptom of his current state of utter disorientation. He steadied himself and ran towards the voice. It was friendly; one of his trusted lieutenants, Haderach.

Haderach was a tall, brutal man with a thick streak of nihilist, sadist and genius through the very core of his being. He fitted his calling perfectly – hired muscle of the highest calibre. He wasn’t cheap, and that, besides what Nimo had witnessed, assured him of the skill of the man. He wielded a shotgun like most surgeons wielded a scalpel.

The train junkyard was cold and foreboding, and now the twin moons of the accursed rock had risen fully in the sky, reflecting beams of light into the place. Thick shadows formed on the other side of giant piles of wreckage, making escape perhaps easier were it not for the bright avenues of light between carriages. There would be no way of efficiently escaping from this place.

“Options?”

“I’ve killed three of them, and I saw the body of the one you dispatched.”

“The dogs are all dead.”

“Well, where from here then?”

“The exit hatch is currently shut – we think they’ve been monitoring our vox traffic, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out what we were talking about.”

“What about Marius?”

“The contact?”

“Yes – have we heard anything?” hissed Nimo. The edge of nervousness was palpable in his voice. He needed this win. Too much was riding on this – too many giant, fat, Imperial bonds.

“I’m getting something on command chatter…. He’s ‘pathed in. He saw the place being compromised – they knew the meeting sector and monitored arrival paths. He saw them before they saw him. He still wants to exchange. He’s suggesting we still go while the iron is hot.”

“Wait… What? He wants in here? Frakking hell…..”

Nimo rubbed his chin and adjusted the goggles on his face. It was a gamble, certainly. The place was crawling, but they’d killed four of the interlopers and they didn’t look like arbites or local PDF – these were heavies for some local criminal or worse, some trade rival who was also on the trail of the prize and wanted the Inquisitorial reward for himself.

No gamble, no payoff, as his old man had always said.

“Well, Nimo?”

“Tell him yes. Have you got any explosives?”

Hadrach grinned at the stupidity of the question – of course he had explosives.

“Brilliant. Plant some and bring down those three coaches over there. We’ll try and make it look like we’re blowing ourselves a route out of this place. I’ll take vantage on top of that rubble. You take the other side; we’ll try and catch them between a rock and a hard place.”

“Fine by me,” grinned his enthusiastic companion.

Hadrach moved quickly across the open courtyard formed artificially by the old train carriages. Nimo pulled himself onto the top of one ruined hulk, and secreted himself behind a bent access hatch. He watched as Hadrach secured the explosives, before hurrying away from them to sit opposite Nimo. Nimo looked out across the yard, unable to spot any his pursuers, even though he knew they’d still be out there somewhere.

Hadrach signalled over the vox, slightly less subtle than before.

“I’m blowing a way out of the graveyard – I’m injured and need immediate assistance. No sign of muscle. Living dead in vicinity unsure of their proximity – when you see the explosion, come in and pick me up. I’ll be sprinting through the debris to emergency evacuation point three. Tango confirm?”

“Tango confirmed.”

Without warning the carriages erupted in gouts of explosive flame. The rush of force hit the access hatch, knocking it hard against Nimo’s knee. He cursed, before realising that the rouse had seemingly worked. Voices were shouting from across the yard, before the thunder of heavy boots against the rails. They were coming into the pincers of the trap.

Overhead, Nimo could hear the rumble of VTOL engines approaching quickly – the Bloodied Rose, his prized atmospheric lander. The large skiff came about overhead, circling menacingly like a brutal imperial eagle. The voices gained urgency as they came across the junkyard. They were moving quickly, Nimo could see them now. Hadrach flicked his hand to signal to hold, to which Nimo nodded.

They weren’t in the trap yet – not just yet. The Rose came about, the rumbling engines blowing a dust cloud up in the courtyard which fanned the flames – it distorted the whole scene, perhaps troubling Hadrach and Nimo but crucially meaning their more numerous foes would struggle as well and they didn’t have the advantage of height.

Nimo’s face dropped, however, at the sight of an RPG snaking through the dust cloud.

The grenade exploded, the flash and shock making Nimo shield his eyes.

The vox came alive.

“I’m going to frakking kill you Nimo, kill those cretins!”

The scorched nose of the Rose danced into view through the dust, still glowing from the impact yet thankfully still airborne. Nimo didn’t need a second order, and neither did Hadrach. Their weapons burst into life. It was unfair, brutal, cold but very decisive.

There wasn’t anything left as the dust began to settle. Overhead the Rose cruised in leisurely circles above the bodies of the fallen as Nimo and Hadrach searched the bodies quickly and without any care for the dead.

“Here, Nimo.”

It was a distinctive face, tattooed and cold. The dead eyes were blue, bold and true. The tattoo was an Imperial litany on the tyranny of wealth. A man Nimo knew by the name of Falvio di Nochi. The man who’d sent him on this little errand. He’d been watching him all the time, moving through his contacts and onwards with the search – waiting for the opportune time to strike. And he had trusted Falvio – folly, now, Nimo understood. He sighed and closed the eyes of the old vagabond traitor. He would have to keep his guard up if even his oldest friends were turning on him.

“Boss…” said Hadrach, pointing to the entrance to the courtyard. A solitary figure had appeared in a simple leather jacket and tough, durable work boots. He carried himself tall and just warily enough until he assessed the situation and lack of weapon discharge; as he crossed the distance to Hadrach and Nimo he seemed to walk with incredible purpose.

“Marius?” Nimo chanced as the man came into earshot.

“Yes, Nimo, I am Marius. You have what I requested?”

“On board the Rose.”

Marius looked at him quizzically, as if the mention of the Rose meant nothing to him. Nimo adjusted immediately.

“The Skiff overhead, Lord, as you requested.”

“Ah, excellent. Tell me, Rogue Trader Nimo, what this endeavour has cost you this far?”

Nimo looked slightly puzzled at the question.

“I’m not sure what you mean, Marius.”

Marius smiled – and Nimo looked into his face. Marius had sharp features, well defined and handsome. They were reptilian, cold and precise. The assurance with which Marius moved was all the more obvious as to why, now.

“Is there something you’re not telling me Marius?”

“Answer the question, Nimo, and I’ll let you leave here alive.”

Marius parted his jacket, revealing an Inquisitional symbol.

“It’s cost me enough, Inquisitor.”

Nimo’s voice was filled with a sadness he himself hadn’t expected.

****

Hydroponics Bay, Fahrech; Hope is the Last Resort of the Insane

Maya simply kept moving. There wasn’t much else to do. She’d chanced having a few hours of respite in nightmare ridden sleep. It was enough to keep her moving and upright, but it didn’t feel like rest. She dare not sleep truly and deeply, not in this insane charnel house. It was as if the boundaries of the hydroponics bay constantly slipped through reality. No matter how far she felt she travelled in one direction, it never seemed to be far enough to reach one of the exits into the main station. The fields had almost become endless, and now it had begun to grate on the edges of her admittedly ragged sanity.

It wasn’t just the lack of sleep that was beginning to take a toll. It was the lack of food and the intermittent water supplies that she found. There had been ample watering hoses and sprinklers across each of the fields, but she struggled to find them without any particular reason. They had been in simple squares, every few hundred meters in each direction from any given sprinkler. This no longer appeared to be the case.

The hungering creatures had at least abated their relentless assaults. The paranoia still ran thick in her mind and in her veins, but the actual attacks had stopped. She had also found some small arms; an autopistol with several spare magazines and a roughshod revolver and a box of thirty bullets. The revolver was thick and brutal, a weapon just like her hand scythe – brutal, simple and effective. The autopistol was considerably more refined but no less deadly – the gun could spit bullets at a rate to make it more comparable to a chainsaw designed to rend a man in half, at distance.

She smiled as she found another group of security officers. They carried standard combat packs – which meant they likely had ration kits on them as well. She slumped down, raiding them quickly. Two had water bottles, which were full. She slid them onto her belt, and continued into the packs. They had enough rations between them to last her a few days. What had possessed the security officers to carry such supplies, she didn’t know. Perhaps they had anticipated they would be spending some time in the hydroponics.

She moved quickly away from the bodies, staying low and thin between the thick stalks of crops. The tall stalks kept her hidden, which was useful. The overrun growth of the vegetable patches only left her exposed as they weren’t tall enough to hide her. If she was exposed, it meant the creatures could see her from further away, and that meant she would end up dead. She looked up, through the great domes, into the vastness of space. The thin layer of atmosphere in the ceiling, used to damp further the harmful rays coming through the domes was still intact. The clouds were still forming and the thin atmosphere had a hue of light, pleasant blue.

She sat and quickly ate one of the energy bars, feeling it slide down her gullet. She was getting painfully thin. It surprised her just how quickly her frame had emaciated itself. Her ribs were pushing through her skin, her spin ridged and spikey through the thin skin on her back. The scars from where she had been careless in combat showed all the more prominently on her taut skin. She was a shadow of the young woman she had been when she had first arrived on the station. Her eyes were terrible now; sallow, sunk into her skull and filled with an infinite sadness.

She moved on, looking for a corner in which she could construct some basic shelter. A corner of fencing looked inviting – the back of it looked out onto wide fields, but the fencing was thick, multi-layered and reached up to head height. She used her scythe to hack down several quick sheaths of stalks, which she bound together loosely with one she spat on and worked until it was flexible. She tied a few of the sheaths and arranged them in a loose semi circle, completing the shelter against the thick fence. Overhead she could seethe station begin to turn away from the star of Fahrech, meaning that night was soon to fall on hydroponics. She gathered what little she had with her, arranged it loosely behind her to provide some cushion from the hard corners of the fence and fell into a light sleep.

Her sleep was riddled with nightmares, dark and creeping. She ghosted over fields that were fertile and green on some distant world she’d never seen before. She flew gently and quickly over the rolling hills, the greenery lush and verdant. The scene was so innocent, as if from another age, that it made her heart ache. Then the massacre began.

The greenery began to die, wilting underneath a filth ridden blanket of miasma. Vomit streamed from a dying black star that crushed the life below. The liquid rushed across the fields, consuming everything in its path, burning the fauna down to bare soil. The earth itself seemed roil against the unnatural fluid as it flowed unevenly. Bubbles of disease burst out of the ground. The planet was being consumed as the black sun continued to spew its guts onto the planet as it danced around its destroyer.

At the epicentre of the decay, at the very point of impact where the dark viscous water had hit the earth, a hand clawed through the ground and up into the air, clawing like a new born. The hand clawed further, pulling and grasping, dragging and wrenching; a pallid, gaping sphincter birthed from the soil, gaping and burping green gas into the air. From the throbbing flesh a figure began to emerge, covered in liquid detritus. The flesh of the figure was thin and pale, the veins underneath prominent and thick. The figure coughed into life, breath the seeping gas that came out of the earth. Maya swooped downwards, towards the figure that was barely breath – the figure turned and Maya looked in horror at her own visage.

She awoke with a scream, tears flooding down her face.

Silence surrounded her for what seemed like an age. There seemed so very little point in continuing now. This never ending field of madness was going to claim her at some point, whether it was one of the damned beasts, hunger, thirst, or any number of possible injuries or infections. This place had been slowly sapping her resolve and now she felt there was simply nothing else left to give.

She let her fingers run down the rugged steel of the revolver, before bringing the gun up and into her mouth. She closed her eyes whispering slowly to herself even as the barrel forced her mouth into unfamiliar patterns, and pulled the trigger.

****

Adeptus Mechanicus Quarter, Fahrech; There Are Ghosts in Every Machine

++ You will yield, Magos-Militant. The conclusions are obvious, even if the calculations are not ++

++ Incorrect ++ spat Eirick, fuming, ++ The calculations are too imprecise. I will not authorise a militant action ++

++ You will yield Magos, because your authority is rescinded. The Magos-Maintenum has agreed and the logic of the decision is flawless. Mars will support our decision once this situation has been resolved. You will step down, Magos. ++

The Skitarii bristled closer to the Magos, snarling. They were like starving jackals surrounding their prey. There were a few of them, and Eirick knew he couldn’t fight them off with them around him like this, even with his massive servo harness. They had the advantage, they had numbers, and they would kill him. He could virtually taste their desperation. Ominissah damn them, he figured. If they wished to spill their blood on a blind crusade into the darkness of the station without due course of process and calculation, then so be it.

++ I will yield for the good of solidarity and our unity. You will need my focus and calculations to help dictate the flow of battle. ++

The Skitarii seemed satisfied with his answer and backed down. Their agitation seemed unwarranted though to Eirick – perhaps supplies were dwindling, and perhaps they needed to secure some of the sacred machinery open to perversion in the rest of the station. But this didn’t warrant the lunacy of open warfare across the station. They needed to scout out the bottle necks in the station, the former crew and the prisoners. Sending out servitors, some of the smaller cherubim and nephilim first through the vents would help them to establish the situation.

From there tactical calculations would allow them to plot optimal attack paths and to spread into the station and purge through to the sacred machinery. But no luck – the Skitarii wanted blood, their choler was up.

He turned and left, leaving them to their anger. Eirick knew he couldn’t win the battle directly. He would have to work around them – somehow. He sighed as his dataslate bleeped up with the latest list of defects that were creeping into the servitors and machinery. He sighed. It was getting worse. Constantly, they were slipping and degrading. The sub-routine programs would go first. Then the core routines would begin to break. They wouldn’t simply stop working; however, they would continue to run erratically. Behaviours would become bizarre.

Some would walk into the end of corridors and continue walking until their legs wore away to stumps. Some of the machinery would run until it broke, cogs flying everywhere and flywheels worn down to bare metal. Some would run so fast the holy oil and unguents would ignite and the machine would burst into flames. It was as if a pandemic nightmare of mechanical faults was sweeping the entire station. They wouldn’t admit it, but the Magos of Fahrech were fighting a losing battle. The flames of faults were getting too strong, too great, across the whole station.

++ Magos-Militant Eirick, a moment please. ++

Eirick turned, disguising his glower by setting his eyes back to neutral red and his vox unit to steady.

++ Yes Magos-Maintenum, ++ he said flatly, pressing down his fury at his impotence in the face of the Skitarii.

++ Are you convinced the course of action suggested by the Skitarii is correct? ++

Eirick controlled his ire and responded with a level head.

++ The Skitarii have their own way to deal with the present situation. ++

++ That statement did not indicate your agreement with the course of action. Do you as their Magos-Militant do not see this as a mutiny against the command structure? ++

Eirick breathed in deeply and tried not to rise.

++ The disagreement was subject to passion on both sides. Rational thought from the Skitarii swayed my decision. I have other tasks to attend to – I will let them perform preliminary reconnaissance before I assist with the search and destroy operations across the station. More data to perform tactical calculations will increase the chances of success of future operations. ++

++ Logical, Magos-Militant. Logical. ++

++ I have tasks to attend to, Magos, if I may ++

++ Go, Eirick, go, I’ll not keep you. ++

Eirick bowed his head reverentially, touched the Cog on his chest and moved towards his quarters. Damn the Magos, and damn the Skitarii. They were risking the whole operation. He would have to act, and decisively. He reached his quarters at pace, and reached for a thick red case, inside which lurked his most prized possession. He closed and locked the door to his quarters behind him, careful to ensure the door was secured. He slid heavy bolts open at the top of the red case and intoned the Ritual of the Destroyer as he did so.

He didn’t intone the words lightly – as the case opened, his eyes filled with the sight of his bolt pistol. He ran his fingers along the side of the weapon, noting its deadly precision and brutal efficacy.

He could countenance the rebellion of the Skitarii no longer.

****

Hydroponics Bays, Fahrech; Hope is the Last Resort of the Insane

The barrel had spun one bullet round. The hammer had clicked and swung into the back of the bullet. The bullet had simply died in its cell, the powder of potential not igniting. Maya was breathing deeply, drawing huge breaths to drown out the shock at the lack of the explosion in her mouth. She took the weapon out of her mouth, coughing and spluttering.

She wasn’t sobbing but the tears rushed down her face streaking the filth that caked her cheeks.

“What am I doing…” she whispered, barely able to understand her previous intentions and actions. She put the gun down, slowly, and let it rest in front of her. The nightmare had passed but like the sun flashing on her retina the images still flickered in front of her eyes in intense bursts of imagery.

She slung the weapons into the belt around her hips and stood slowly, testing her aching limbs. She’d slept well, and felt thoroughly rested. She took a swing of water which was somewhat insipidly warm from her own body heat and then finished a ration bar.

She suspected that some intelligence was guiding the creatures and simply toying with her nightly, making sure that she lost her sense of bearings each night so she could no longer walk towards one of the edges of the bay. That seemed like the most rational suggestion – that, and a severe distortion of time on her part due to the shock of the situation meant that she simply couldn’t rationalise where she was and that meant she hadn’t made it to the edge of the place.

With this in mind, she had scored a number of marks into the fence in the direction of her travel. She had slept on the marks, with them to her back, to ensure they weren’t interfered with. When she checked back for them, she immediately noticed the marks had been seared away, only cold but obviously previously molten metal remained behind.

“It’s too easy Maya,” a voice echoed from somewhere on the plains, “You’re so game and feisty. As I devoured your baby, I could taste its spirit, just like yours, so angry and flaming hot. I’ll enjoy consuming you, just like the child.”

“Show yourself, spirit!” she roared, screaming and kicking the fence in rage. Her breaths became short and ragged as her rage took her over, leaving her a fuming wrenching mess.

“Oh come on dear Maya, don’t you remember my voice… Ha. I like this body, you know. Firm. Masculine. Strong. It’s all such a terrible shame it is falling to pieces.”

Maya looked around, turning quickly on the balls of her feet. She had her scythe out in one hand, heavy revolver in the other, trying to spot her tormenter.

“And I appear. Tell me Maya, do you recognise me… I recognise you. I have all his memories – and in the long days in the cells, during the beatings and the torture it was what he clung to, and because of that, it’s what I cling to. See he had the warding tattoos but they broke that, and they put me inside here with him. As his sanity eroded he clung to that memory like a man shipwrecked at sea, holding onto the last floating piece of his ship. It gave him strength. And then it gave me strength.”

The figure emerged from the shadows, a desperately pale imitation of her partner. It was him, certainly – the face, while rotten, pallid and shrunken was definitely his with the proud features and noble brow. His hair was retreating up his scalp as the skin pulled taut. His gut, previously flat and youthful was now distended and bloated and stunk of rotten flesh and excrement. Maggots crawled through his flesh, allowing further detritus to flow out of the holes they wriggled in the flesh.

She vomited with the shock of the sight, falling down onto her knees. She was barely able to lift her head as he approached her, smiling.

“Don’t worry Maya,” he said, yanking her to look at him, face to face, by her hair. He picked her up easily in one hand, holding her by the throat.

“I won’t turn you into one of them. I’ll make you just like me.”

****

Adeptus Mechanicus Quarter, Fahrech; There Are Ghosts in Every Machine

++ You will not step through the breach, Skitarus Glaavius. You will halt this action. I will no longer authorise your actions. ++ Magos-Militant Eirick stated matter of factly. His weapon was hefted firmly in his hands, aimed directly at the gathering skitarii.

Glaavius began to turn. He was a tall man, firmly built with several cybernetic replacements. His arms were augmented with reconstructed fibres to make his muscles more effective. He had lost his jaw and part of his skull on a forsaken battlefield, many light years from here, which had all been replaced with heavy mechanical parts. His ribs down his left hand side were all metallic too, along with his augmented heart and lung. All in all, he was far more mechanised than man.

“Eirick, you will back down. We’ve discussed this,” Glaavius replied. He turned, not aggressively but his weapons were quite clearly within reach and fully loaded and prepared for a fight. His skitarii bristled with confidence at his response.

++ I cannot let you leave, Glaavius. This is a rash course of action, dictated by base human need. The Ominissah will provide us with the correct guid- ++

“Really? Will he Eirick, hmmm? Will he? I doubt it very much. We’re dying in here – no matter how much flesh we replace because of its weakness, we’re dying in here. You’re helpless to stop it – and the supplies that will save us re-“

++ You will stop. You will co-operate. Or I will prosecute you to the full extend of my authority as a fully vested member of the Brotherhood of Mars. ++

“Ha. Fool.”

The voice was no longer that of Skitarus Glaavius. It had taken on a dark sinister tone, one filled with anger and loathing.

“You don’t even understand what you’re dealing with here.”

Glaavius smiled as he disengaged the locks on the main door out into the station.

++ Desist. Now. ++ insisted Eirick, his bolter locked onto Glaavius.

“You’re all dead and defunct. You simply don’t know it yet.”

The doors released, and a howling host charged into the corridor.

****

In the bleak void of space I watch and wait. Time is ticking and I am patient enough to watch this little opera unfold. I am fond of the greatest of tragedies. I enjoy watching our heroes fall, because inevitably we are all destined to fall. It is what we do at our peak, what great impregnable good we commit in the short time we have with our peak powers that influences how we should be remembered.

I once thought I had reached the peak of my prowess and I accepted that from that point I would suffer degradation in my ability.

How wrong I had been.

In the bleak void of space I watch and wait. Time is ticking, and I am patient enough to watch my greatest plan unfold before me. What great horror I might inflict will outweigh the consequences of this great work. When I first tamed the beast – or at least chained it to my will – I knew I had committed an impregnable good for it still had that insatiable appetite.

I once thought I would never learn the reality of my role in all of this confusion and mayhem and I accepted that perhaps I would go unfulfilled.

How wrong I had been.

In the bleak void of space I watch and wait. Time is ticking, and I am patient enough to watch this catastrophe unfold before me. There’s always a need for blood, and no matter how much is shed there’s always an unstoppable pounding for more. When I saw the cost of the reckoning I counted it well, and for each sin assured I will stop an ill or more.

I once thought that the end would never justify the means, no matter how great the good achieved at the end – the cost should always justify the end.

How wrong I had been.

This is my greatest work, a great role meant for a leader and visionary that would be consecrated in the blood of martyrs for the greater good of the Imperium. My vision is absolute on this matter.

I will not be wrong on this matter.


****

Unknown Location, Galactic East

“We should stop bumping into each other like this, Herald.”

The voice was feminine, sultry and firm. It cut the air with a sound quite like silk being torn. A thick lipped grin passed her face as she patrolled around her prey. Her prey was a firmly built, stocky, male figure dressed in a long jacket, a thick hood and a large travelling pack under which was slung a large ornate hammer. Behind him, a smaller figure shrunk away, lurking behind the much larger silhouette. All around the crowds in the train station were bustling, barely noticing the rising conflict in their midst.

“You should stop following me everywhere I go.”

People flowed between the three of them moving at what seemed like slow motion. Time and air thickened all around the both of them.

“That’s why I’ve always liked you. You have a sense of humour.”

“And I suppose this dance will continue then?”

“Forever, I guess, until you’re dead. Or, I suppose, the off chance I die. That could happen. I can die…. Ha ha. I am, of course, talking theoretically. You won’t stop me, Herald.”

“And you didn’t come alone?”

Rain rattled the thin roof overhead, causing a permanent hiss in the giant hall. Trains vibrated the tracks as they raced through the station causing them to almost hiss their disgust at being trodden over. Other trains squealed as their breaks brought them to a stand still.

“Why bring a knife to a gun fight?”

Overhead in the heights of the roof figures flashed in the shadows. The roof was several storeys high, and the seventeen platforms meant the roof overhead ran a great length over the combined width of the tracks. Power lines ran over several of the tracks humming with the electricity passing through them.

“Let’s not make a great thing of this, then.”

Two white glowing eyes appeared in the hood. Behind the hood, the second figure slipped their hands within their robe

“So be it.”

The two figures moved virtually as one, both drawing their weapons at the same time – the female figure drawing a sword, the other drawing the hammer from their back. Their weapons met and rang out a fierce blow that echoed across the entire station. There was no panic initially as the two of them exchanged parried blows at a speed none of the humans around could comprehend.

All around the station lithe black figures dropped into the milling population. Screams began to echo as the figure behind the two fighting and fierce combatants pulled out a thick black pistol and sprayed liberally into the crowd, chasing the black figures. Civilians caught in the fire were torn apart as bursts of automatic fire cut a bloody tally through the crowds.

The screaming quickly reached a crescendo with the violence. The two figures locked in mortal combat swirled, their respective hoods flicking back to reveal their faces as the third figure remained committed to gunning down the lithe black clad figures. Where the bullets found their target they ripped the target limb from limb as if they had been crafted specifically for the task. The combatants in the centre of the carnage whirled once more, and their faces were fully revealed.

First Inquisitor Junious, Herald of the White Child.

Vaith Osis, Mistress of the Seven Sects.

The hammer, Reprieve, glowed with white hot fury as it slammed against the blade Insanity. The two of them clashed, grimacing trying to give no ground to the other. The obvious strength of Osis showed through, as she was able to shove Junious backwards sending him scattered backwards into the citizenry behind him. He recovered easily from the blow, ducking under a fatal strike from Vaith who decapitated a passer by with a brutally clinical blow. Junious responded by pummelling her backwards with a blast of white psychic energy, which threw her through three people, bowling all four of them to the floor. Vaith responded by killing all three in lightning speed, leaving the bodies behind as she stood up to face down the Inquisitor – who clearly had different ideas.

“Kely, lets move!”

The third hooded figure saw Junious move and without another word followed him as quickly as the Inquisitor pushed his way through the panicked crowd. Vaith composed herself, signalling to the others that were with her for them to follow her after the Inquisitor.

“Get him, kill anything in our path. Spare no one and nothing.”

Her unequivocal orders increased the bloodshed exponentially. All around the lithe black figures began to kill without mercy, to thin the numbers of the people in the station. Junious and Kely kept running, dashing between groups of people and through the flows of people coming into and leaving the station hub.

Behind them, Vaith kept pace with them, dodging easily between people, slashing and maiming those who were stupid enough to get in her way. She leapt onto the side of one of the trains, flipping herself onto the top to allow her an easier route to sprint and get ahead of the fleeing Inquisitor and his companion. She quickly narrowed the gap as Junious and Kely ran, getting well ahead and forming a barrier between Junious, Kely and a beckoning train some distance ahead.

“This is getting tedious, First Inquisitor…”

“Then let’s end it.”

Junious swung Reprieve in a murderous arc, aiming for Vaith’s head. Vaith ducked, forcing Junious to follow through with a pirouette, the hammer still swinging. It hit the side of a cargo box, smashing the metallic crate with a burst of psychic energy and pure impact. Vaith responded with a kick to the back of the Inquisitor as he shuddered from the impact. Junious was flung bodily into the side of a train, smashing the windows with a thunderous crash. The assassin followed through with jumping strike with her sword, which was deflected by Junious with a desperate lunge using the body of his hammer. Vaith smiled her cruel smile as the two locked in a grimacing contest.

“I can smell your fear, human.”

“I can smell your flesh cooking.”

Behind them, Kely, Weapon of the White Child, unleashed a bright flash of white light which hit Vaith and flung her across the station. She smashed brutally through a train carriage, catching her leg on the way through which spun her wildly through a bundle of power cables which sparked furiously before she smashed limply into a firm ferrocrete wall. The wall itself cracked underneath the weight of the hit, shedding a skin of masonry onto the fallen assassin.

Kely nodded at Junious as she pulled him up. Behind them, Vaith’s accomplices were drawing in quickly.

“I think it’s time for us to leave,” said Junious, breathing deeply. Kely nodded her agreement. They picked up the pace again, running for the train. Behind them, the black clad figures seemed disinterested in the First Inquisitor as they raced for their down Mistress.

Vaith was already picking herself up, her arm broken and dislocated at the shoulder, her flesh blackened and puckered, and her ankle quite clearly snapped. Her ribs also seemed disfigured, as if some of them had simply caved in under the impact, but still she rose on her good leg, steadying herself with her good arm.

“They’re leaving, Mistress.”

Vaith spat on the floor, all of it pink with blood. She coughed, retching up a mouthful of blood.

“Leave him. If Nine Eyes wants him so bad, they can send out their own. We waste no more blood on them.”
It is never too late! - Mentirius

http://thementalmarine.proboards.com/index.cgi <- The Mind, for all your irreverent nonsense needs

Offline Dosdamt

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Re: Where Darkness Dwells
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2009, 10:59:28 AM »
Hydroponics Bay, Fahrech; Hope is the Last Resort of the Insane

“Bleed.”

The voice was multi-layered, malevolent, deep and desperately evil. The creature gazed into the soul of Maya, chewing its lip in anticipation of tearing out the soul from what had once been his partner. Maya’s eyes began to bleed, then out of her nostrils. She screamed, even as the creature crushed her wind pipe and began to laugh.

“Your fear is so palpable, Maya. I’ll enjoy killing you, ripping your soul out of your pretty maw and vomiting a great stream of daemons into your gullet. You’ll be pregnant with a great army of filth. I might even leave you inside to watch what the corruption does to you… Beg me to destroy you, Maya. Beg me.”

Maya responded with another scream, and then in blind panic and pure animal instinct grabbed for the hand scythe dangling from her belt before using it to hack through the arm holding her neck.

Immediately the creature’s grasp went limp and the beast screamed in agony. Maya fell to the floor and rolled with the impact, coughing as her mouth filled with blood and her lungs cried out for air. She scrabbled away in the dirt as the thing that had been holding her howled its pain to the distant sky.

“I’ll kill you slowly, bitch. I will rip your arms from your corpse and rape you in so many different ways you will beg for death. You’ll be here for eternity with me, you little slut.”

The creature closed the distance slowly, stalking with a menacing grin on its face.

“I’ve been alive for ever so many centuries, Maya. I’ve existed in the foulest depths of famine, decay, and death. I’ve seen disease ravage planets, and yet I still love the most the very personal despair that the death of a loved one brings – especially when one has been so defiled, like this body. And you’ll suffer for longer and harder and in worse ways than I’ve ever inflicted on anyone else.”

Maya was sobbing as she continued to pull herself through the dusty ground, trying desperately to keep a distance between her and the approaching daemonhost. Her eyes were filled with salty tears which drizzled onto the dirt between her hands. She kept moving, but it was futile. The host loomed over here, laughing.

“My name, Maya, is C’thiis, Champion of Haaron, Fragment of Ithica, and you, Maya Tlaltcuhtli, are about to die a slow, agonising death; upon that death, your immortal soul will be taken into the Warp and you will be tortured and torn apart for all eternity. This pleases me.”

Maya turned and saw the beast fully unleashed. The number of maggots seemed to expand exponentially, leaving a huge trail of filth behind the creature as it advanced. Its eyes shifted and became like those of a fly. In the distance above her head the stars seemed to extinguish but that was just a mass of horrifying flies, all buzzing and twisted.

“I am eternal, Maya. You are nothing.”

The cold comfort of gunmetal had never felt so good in her hand. She hadn’t realised but she had crawled back to where her guns had fallen. She tightened her grip around the weapon, feeling a growing power in her guts even as they tightened inside her. She plucked it up and unleashed the entire magazine, not stopping until the gun simply click click clicked to signal it was empty.

Through the smoke of gunpowder, Maya saw the beast had been riddled with bullets and had staggered backwards before it had collapsed in a heap. She continued breathing deeply and weeping barely able to move with grief, fear, and relief.

She stood up, swaying and sobbing, before walking towards the corpulent body of the fiendish creature. She didn’t crack her visage as she reloaded the weapon, put the gun to the side of the head of the beast, and emptied its brains.

****

Adeptus Mechanicus Quarter, Fahrech; There Are Ghosts in Every Machine

The combat was brutal, up close, physical and instinctive – everything Eirick despised about hand to hand combat. A screaming, vomiting crewman had leapt upon him, knocking him to the floor locking them both in a mortal struggle. All around had descended into madness as similarly insane crew ratings had swept through the doors and engaged with the assorted Adeptus Mechanicus forces.

The lack of any heavy support had reduced the fighting to pure personal mayhem.

Eirick used his mechandrites to leverage himself on the floor, slamming the screaming madman in the face until he was bloodied before Eirick burnt out the brain of the man with a burst of flame in the ear from one of his mechandrites.

He could feel the irrational burning of his anger coursing through his veins, overriding any sense of control he had previously had. Adrenaline coursed through his veins firing his ire even harder.

The blood of the Myrmidon in him was rising.

He rose and his bolt pistol spat death. Eirick didn’t know who he could trust, so he simply ploughed bolt after bolt into the swirling melee. The effect was immediate. Limbs and blood splattered all over as the bolts met their mark. The screaming ratings and skitarii all fell under the brutal explosive assault. Eirick even reloaded as combat began to die down and pumped a secondary burst into the bodies, reducing them to a pile of red detritus.

++ Lock down the entrance ++ Eirick voxed, and the doors came down once more on the Mechanicus fortress within Fahrech.

He stomped back through the corridors; his ire still hadn’t settled down and he was disconcerted by the lack of loyalty in the skitarii. He had never had any cause to distrust any of them before, but now they had turned against him with without a second thought or any notion of loyalty at all.
They would all pay.

He stormed through the locked down corridors, executing anyone and anything in his way. His bolt pistol spat death after death, destroying everything in his way – he wasn’t about to back down on this particular betrayal, not this time. Everyone would pay.

Menials were splattered into fragments of gore and blood. Skitarii fled the wrathful Magos-Myrmidon who was relentlessly pursuing his vengeance throughout the quarter. Shots spat back at him – some even hit him as he advanced, but he was undeterred. This was the pinnacle of his creation – his own realisation.

The dawning of his destructive power.

Each of his mechandrites gave rise to death and carnage. Skitarii wielding close combat weapons; assorted chain weapons, brutal looking blunt tools and heavy cutting lasers – sprinted at him singing praises to dark gods. Eirick simply whispered a prayer to the Ominissah and charged them back.

The first swipe from a huge chainsword sailed over his head as Eirick ducked and plunged one of his Mechandrites through the eye of the Skitarii, coming out the back of the skull in an explosion of gore. A second attack he blocked with his own close combat weapon, a brutal chain axe and his riposte cut a jagged chunk out of his enemy’s leg. A third attack caught him across his arm with a deep cut, but he pressed his own attack back with one of his mechandrites into the stomach and unleashed a burst of plasma which flamed bright blue out of the other side of the offending skitarus. The super heated plasma burnt through his chest cavity leaving behind only a burnt, ruined ribcage and scorched, empty cranial cavity. There simply wasn’t anything left.

Eirick stepped forward, closing on the next group. His mechandrites seemed to snake around him and hiss – it wasn’t far from the truth as the plasma weapon vented its chamber to cool and another, with a flame weapon, bloomed into life as the pilot light began to burn.

The Magos-Myrmidon glared at them, his lens covered eyes flaring into a bloodlust driven red.

++ I would suggest you all cease and desist in your current actions, and surrender yourselves to me. The power of the Ominissah is with me, and you cannot resist my technological might. ++

Eirick knew it was futile, he could see the look of fanaticism in their eyes. They were intent on blooding their weapons, or seeing themselves destroyed by Eirick. He bristled with aggressive intent.

“The Blood God compels us. Your skull will join his throne, or ours. We care not from where the blood flows, only that it flows. Blood for the Blood God – Skulls for the Skull God!”

They charged.

Eirick turned aside the first blow with his axe and stepped forwards, dodging a second blow but taking the third fully in his chest. His metallic ribcage took the impact of the blow, his armour stopping the majority of the force. He twisted with the blow, noticing his chest armour had a huge gouge across it. He unleashed a brutally hot ball of plasma, missing one of his enemies by mere inches which meant it simply burnt through the wall and melted chemical pipes. A secondary reaction meant there was a small explosion, bathing all of the combatants in flames.

The fire caught and took hold as the bodies and chemicals around them leaked onto the floor. The heat was intense as Eirick circled his three enemies. He saw them truly now, in the intense flickering light of the flames. Each one of them had forsaken something, and they looked truly terrible because of it. They were all pale, thin, their skin sunken and their veins showing through the skin. Their eyes were narrow, venomous and capillaries on them dark black. Each of them had a mouthful of broken, brown fangs that were tinged with blood. It was obvious to Eirick now why the place had fallen into disrepair.

They advanced again, he knocked one of them away with his axe and advanced into the second, bulling him to the floor with his shoulder. His mechandrite which ended in a wicked claw slammed down the skitarii’s throat, choking him before snapping his neck from inside. The third attacked bringing his chainsword down in a whirring, snarling arc, chopping through the neck of his downed, dead colleague and the brutal claw mechandrite. The severance impulses sent the claw into frenzy, cutting at the severed ragged flesh on the downed cultist’s neck leaving the stump utterly ruined.

Eirick circled round, his flamer belching gouts of sticky liquid flames which covered one of the cultists. It didn’t stop the screaming lunatic, who drove through Eirick’s concerted defence and knocked him into the wall. He stabbed his knife into Eirick’s thigh, causing him to scream – his legs were still entirely flesh. Blood streamed out of the wound, forcing his reinforced vital organs to work through the pain and the pressure. Eirick flicked each of his mechandrites backwards, driving the burning fanatic into the wall. The fanatic’s comrade circled around, diving forwards with his halberd. Eirick chopped the haft of the halberd in half before spinning, dragging the still alight cultist behind him, into the guard of the second fanatic. He thrust the axe, whining and whirring, into the groin of the man disembowelling him in the process.

Eirick turned and focused on the remaining enemy, preparing to murder him but the flames had consumed his flesh and popped his eyeballs, leaving him a smoking ruin.

He staggered with his leg weakened and bloody to the end of the corridor away from the smoke and the flames. He dragged himself onwards, keeping himself moving even though he left behind him a thick trail of blood. He was physically and mentally exhausted. He slumped down onto the floor, breathing heavily and stared at the ceiling.

****

Unknown location, the Warp

The library on the vessel wasn’t simply large, it was huge. There were bookcases after bookcase, the walls themselves were covered with large racks of shelves linked with ladders. In the very centre of the room, which was perfectly spherical, was a circular table covered with piles of books. Several of them had chaotic stars on the covers, others had great beasts chasing their tails or leering faces; some of the faces had eyes which appeared to follow people around the room on them.

Two figures sat across from each other at the table. One of them leafed through a book as the other sat dispassionately watching.

“You’re sure this is it? This is the conduit?”

Silence invaded the room for a few seconds.

“Yes. He can be used as the catalyst. He should be used as the primary consideration.”

“How do we find him?”

“We cannot find him. He walks between worlds, in a timeless space. He is used at the behest and whim of the Gaoler. Only where the greatest intervention is required will he come.”

He breathed deeply at the receipt of the answer and sighed outwardly. This wasn’t the answer he was looking for.

“The element of unpredictability affects timetables and our milestones. The project is already being compromised by the varying incompetence of my deployed people. Can’t you simply order him here, for goodness sake; he’s as much your man as mine.”

“The incompetence of the people you have chosen to employ is not of concern to us. Only the completion of the project, by any means necessary. Kill as many as is required. Destroy as many worlds as is required. The means does not matter. Only the end matters.”

“If it is needed, then it is done.”

****

High Orbit, Fahrech

Agares was unusually restless on the shuttle as he waited for the old man. It wasn’t often that Aw’cer would leave him waiting, which irked the daemonhost even more. Regardless of the actual nature of the relationship, Agares liked to think he was in charge and in control. Any challenge to his authority, whether actual or perceived, was not to be tolerated. Especially at this time – Agares understood perfectly well about the great gush of warp energy from the station – he couldn’t just see it, he could taste it. It leaked out and slicked all around him.

The place wasn’t just to be investigated, it was to be claimed and subjugated and bent to his will. Agares had never been especially ambitious and had always been happy to serve in the great army of Khorne, taking skulls for the glory of his master and slaughtering up close and personal – but now, for whatever reason, the strategic view had become all too clear to him – power, power on a grand and epic scale. His own army, perhaps with a view to becoming a minor deity in his own right – it was all so clear to him now and more importantly, it seemed for the first time within his grasp.

With that power would follow great glory, fighting in the Eye in the name of Khorne.

In the distance he heard the clack and shuffle of the old man and his cane. He also heard several secondary footsteps, echoing around as Agares rose from his hunched position to greet Aw’cer.

“What news, Agares?” the old Inquisitor said, smiling at the daemonhost who only scowled back.

“Yes, anyway, we’ve received word from a young Inquisitor, Stobek, who is to lead the investigation here. I thought his temerity was rather endearing, so I have chosen to acquiesce to his wishes. I believe he is working with this Jayna we already made contact with, so I believe he potentially has more information than us. I will be seeing him on his ship in a formal briefing.”

Aw’cer was true to his word – he was dressed in formal robes, gilded with gold stitch and filigree and the entire thing was fashioned from the most luxurious of fabrics. He was clearly putting on a show, with his Seal decked in a great brass ring which was hanging from a thick cord of silk around his neck. The old man was clearly taking this meeting extremely serious.

“This isn’t an occasion for you, Agares,” continued Aw’cer, “You know your nature isn’t exactly…..”

He struggled to find the right word.

“I’m not creed?” helped Agares.

“Yes, I suppose that will do. I need you to stay here and look after the shuttle. I am going to bring with me a vocal transponder; I want you to monitor my conversations with Stobek and Jayna, and whoever else is with them. Keep your ears open and pick up on anything you think is relevant. I think he might know more than he is letting on or than perhaps he thinks he knows, and I want to be able to take the initiative with this. The library at Fahrech, if the plans sent to us by Davide are to be believed, is huge and that is our primary concern. Any secondary considerations will be taken at the time of contact. Are we understood?”

Aw’cer didn’t wait for an answer as he began to leave.

“What about the human lives on the station, Aw’cer? What about your duty?”

Aw’cer didn’t rise to the daemon’s mockery. Agares smiled a self satisfied smile as his supposed master left. The cracks were beginning to show.

****

High Orbit, Fahrech

Stobek was significantly more nervous than he had expected to be. The veneer he had applied to himself of being an inquisitor was clearly beginning to wear thin. The initial confidence he had had waned and now he was becoming more irritable and aggressive which wasn’t making him any friends.

He sat down on his bunk and ran his fingers through his hair – he was feeling exhausted by all of the politics on the ship and this feeling of exhaustion had come down before he had stepped foot on the nightmare of Fahrech station.

He watched the video of Vasilli Domonechz again and again in silence. He didn’t bother leaving the sound on – he just watched the flickering horrific video over and over. It didn’t disturb him anymore. He simply let it fill him with a sense of creeping dread.

There was a knock at the door.

“Yes?”

Jayna entered, her presence filling the room. Her steely frame intimidated Stobek – he wasn’t sure how she had retained it during the long and tedious journey out to Fahrech, but retained it she had. She looked like a coiled spring, filled with a great and terrible potential for violence. She sat on his chair, crossing her legs.

“Stobek, Inquisitor Aw’cer is on his way. He is an old man, perhaps a foolish old man, but he has said he will bow to your lead in this endeavour. I don’t trust him.”

This was the first time Jayna had offered her opinion and insight into a person. Everything previous had been cold, calculating – objective in the extreme and purely procedural. Things were, or they were not.

“I believe him to be a snake, self interested and after only one thing on Fahrech – power, be that knowledge or explicit, heretical power. Like any wounded or old creature, he is currently at his most dangerous. Stay wary of him.”

Stobek nodded.

“I’ll make sure I keep it in mind. These… These are a lot of very specific attacks on the character of an Inquisitor. I mean… I know these things are never black and white. I know he isn’t likely to simply be an angel, and certainly if he is old then more often than not more than a little pragmatism is likely to have seeped into his work, but he has a seal….. I must respect him. I have to do the right things with him, even if it is just in the short term. After that – well, that will be the time to decide his character.”

“Very well – I think your position is perhaps… Naïve, but it is a fair judgement and one that, if correct, will prove to be beneficial when we will need it – when we are in the depths of that accursed place.”

For a second, Stobek thought he could see a smile.

“Any word from Vahen?”

Vahen had been a distant, silent figure for Stobek, which disconcerted him. Most Inquisitors were elusive figures, but this Vahen figured seemed even more so than most other Inquisitors he had encountered so far in his career. He wasn’t even certain he could recall the face of Vahen, the only detail that seemed familiar was that the left hand side of his face had been scarred. It was all so long ago now. He had to rely that this Vahen hadn’t sent him into an unsalvageable situation on Fahrech.

When he thought about it, Stobek had to concede he had impressed Vahen with his work previously. He was diligent, thoughtful and when the encounter required it downright brutal. It had surely been this attitude that had ensured that it was he that would be given this high profile role – and surely, it was. He was to lead several Inquisitors, without yet having his seal, into the heart of darkness to purge the daemonic presence there and to rescue as many as possible; including Vasilli Domonechz, if he was still alive and in any fit or sane enough state to recount what had happened on the station and potentially face the Emperor’s justice.

“Inquisitor Vahen will contact us at the pertinent time. For now, we should keep our minds set on our purpose, not the masters looking at our performance. Our objectives remain clear, even if the way to achieve them is not. Keep the faith, Stobek. You have more ability than you appear to give yourself credit for.”

Stobek was immediately taken aback but didn’t let it show. Jayna hadn’t ever really ventured an opinion on Stobek, so to receive a positive opinion from her was a welcome hand to his confidence. He breathed out deeply and nodded.

“Thank you for your counsel Jayna. It is appreciated. I’ve been troubled these long days, waiting and inactive. I’m more used to simply acting. Leading is an entirely new concept for me.”

“It will be fine. Your role is to lead – and you will grow into that role. What waits us across on the station will be overcome, and you will probably earn your seal out of this. Everyone knows you’re able, Stobek, you simply need to demonstrate that ability in this particular arena.”

Jayna stood up and smiled at Stobek.

“Give it time; it won’t be long before everyone is here.”

****

Unknown Location, Galactic East

Junious sighed as his aching limbs protested at being rested. Adrenaline and activity had kept him going for a significant length of time during the combat and after as they ran through the train, eventually settling in one of the small private carriages in one of the upper decks of the cross continental train. The journey would take them a few days to the gate, followed by a few hours after the gate on the other side to the docking port.

From there, they would rendezvous with their contact, a rogue trader, to allow them to be uplifted and moved onto the next location – Fahrech.

Fahrech had come to Junious’ attention through a number of his sources, most of them discreet and covert. They’d told him of the volume of heretical goods, services and manpower heading to the station and that alone had been enough to signal to Junious that he needed to make his way to Fahrech.

He had also put his feelers out with several of his old contacts in the Inquisition, a few of which had yielded leads.

Fahrech was supposedly being currently occupied by one Inquisitor Vasilli Domonechz, a moderate known for his even handed judgement and passion for finding solutions that didn’t result in mass genocide. He was also a psyker of some repute, a pyrokine of all things. His moderate approach to his work really didn’t match his psychic talents, but his restraint spoke of a wise and extremely dedicated Inquisitor. Junious was almost warming to him.

Domonechz’s sponsorship was something of a mystery. A number of investigations had yielded seven different names for the three required to elevate one to the rank of Inquisitor, and none of those named appeared to have especially detailed records of service. It was this that had disturbed Junious the most.

There was also chatter about the items being sent to Fahrech. Consecrated metals, large vats of holy water from Terra no less, all manner of devotional materials and a constant flow of Astropaths – none of this added up to anything that seemed to make any sense.

This journey stank like a descent into the heart of darkness.

Junious opened his data-slate and re-read all the information. There had to be a common link; a name, a contact, something! Something that pointed to the reality of his elevation to Inquisitor – Junious was not ready to accept that the records had been so badly recorded, not just yet.

Nothing.

He sighed and rubbed his eyes and brow. He was feeling exhausted. The last… he wasn’t sure, the last few months, years perhaps, had all blurred into one. Delan’s Point was gone. The Lancing Light was lost, presumably destroyed, in the massacre at the Point. There wasn’t much left of the cell – they had all scattered to the winds. Junious had escaped with Istaranastari and Kely through the webway, being left at the nearest Imperial world with a still working gateway. His seal still gave him the authority to requisition whatever they needed on the move, but it was still a harsh existence.

Then the Seven Sects had come for him. He’d killed more of those accursed black clad animals than he could count and in his own mind it wasn’t nearly enough. They’d chased and chased, and Junious had simply killed more and more of them. Eventually they’d sent Vaith, and he’d fought her across several worlds. She’d caused more collateral damage than Junious had thought possible. Scores would die each time they fought one another, and she would only ever attack in crowded population centres. Vaith was a cruel, crazy blasphemous creation of the very worst kind.

Now he was streaking across an endless industrial wasteland, a world decimated by Adeptus Mechanicus strip mining and then the implant of huge STC facilities to paper over the deserts. They drifted past workshops that clearly worked round the clock pumping out munitions and weapons. It reminded him of distant Mars, a red barren world covered with the endeavours of the priesthood.

Across from him, Kely slept an undisturbed sleep. She had grown now from a slip of a girl into a quickly maturing young woman. She was a fierce soul beneath her shy exterior, and that had begun to come to the fore. Junious wagered she had been deeply affected by the events at the point and it had hardened her heart. Perhaps that was for the good – there were dark times ahead.

For a few minutes he watched out of the window as the wastelands passed great tracts of bloody desert. It had once been a green and verdant planet, with great mountains filled with precious minerals and a great wealth of life. Now, the planet was virtually entirely flat. Deep mines ran through towards the core of the planet, stripping out whatever was left. The spaceport in the distance was a throng of activity as ships constantly arrived and departed carrying precious supplies to and from the surface.

But that wasn’t their destination – the great gate was.

The great gate was some golden age relic which linked one world to another through some gateway. The Adeptus Mechanicus didn’t understand the technology, but it seemed so robust and so well constructed it didn’t need maintenance. More than that, it had a complex maze of STC constructs and templates all around it. The Adeptus Mechanicus had tried to crack the mazes to draw out the secrets but the place resisted their attempts with such fervour they had stalled in their attempts until they had made enough calculations about the true size and nature of the mazes. That was several millennia ago. The calculations didn’t seem to end.

The place distorted time and space with such an effect that they simply couldn’t work out how large the place was, where the true entrance was and what lay within the complex. A few Magi persisted with the calculations, refusing to be beaten. Most didn’t see the benefit as worth it.

In the far distance as the carriages snaked across the desert, he could see the great gate. It was huge, stretching far into the sky. It was decorated in great baroque images of the Emperor and his Primarchs. Junious couldn’t tell if the traitor legions had been removed from the great machine, though it would be a fair assumption. There was a tract of scorched, barren land behind the gateway. A train approached the gateway and went through. A bright light flashed, and behind the gate a belch of energy crackled out across the land behind the gate, causing a great column of black dust to rise into the air. The gate was infamously one way.

Junious smiled at the thought of being flung across the system to the systems other habitable planet and more importantly his contact and astropathic access.
It is never too late! - Mentirius

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Offline Magos Exarratus

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Re: Where Darkness Dwells
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2009, 03:29:31 PM »
Nimo strode through the back streets, feeling deeply unsettled and not a little sad. More than that, though, he felt anger. His contact, the Inquisitor (at which though Nimo once again involuntarily shuddered), going under the name Marius had revealed to him the location of the Ark. Nimo had been surprised at how near it actually was. His goal in sight, Nimo should have felt slightly relieved, and tense in case something go wrong. He should have felt single-minded. He felt betrayed however, and knew that somewhere in his contacts there was not only someone who had blatantly betrayed him, but who well knew that it would likely result in his death. Nimo had a sneaking suspicion who it was. Not that it mattered, what mattered most was that he cleared his head, which was why he stopped outside a rundown door in a more dangerous part of town. And that was why  Hadrach accompanied him. Nimo would meet Melling at the other address soon.

Nimo nodded towards the door. Hadrach kicked the door open. It hadn’t been locked and swung back violently.  A well-placed shotgun blast stopped it in its tracks. They leapt past the door then, into the sitting room, scanning the place. Nimo swiftly saw that no-one was there. His ears ceased ringing and he heard sounds from the kitchen. Pulling a pistol he strode on through. There was a figure standing on the sink, desperately trying to open the window.

“Hello Snout,” said Nimo.

Snout whirled round, his mouth forming into the O of surprise. Realising his mistake, he corrected it, but by that time he had given himself away.

“Why Nimo,” he stuttered, shaking like a leaf, “How nice it is to see you?” He didn’t move from the sink.

“I’m glad you think so,” said Nimo, a let out an unsettling smile as he watched Snout’s response to his equally unsettling voice. Snout had never liked it, he knew, but before at least it had been friendly.

“Why don’t you get down from that sink, and allow me to introduce you to a friend of mine.” Nimo glanced back. “Ah looks like he’s already here. Snout, say hello Hadrach, hello shotgun.”

Snout looked resigned as he got down. “Hello Hadrach, hello shotgun.”

“Now, why don’t you follow us back into your living room. It’s a nice place you’ve got hear, nice vid-screen. Expensive is it?”

“Yes.”

“Why don’t you sit down, there you go, have a cushion. Is that comfortable?”

“Yes.” Snout didn’t look comfortable, not in the least. It might have had something to do with the shotgun that he kept on glancing at.

“Good, good.” Nimo stopped pacing for a moment, he stood perfectly still as if thinking. He looked calm. He wasn’t calm though, nor was he thinking, rather he was trying to keep the roiling emotions under control. He didn’t want to move too quickly now, did he. “I have a problem Snout, and I’m not sure how to explain it in a way you’ll understand. After all, I can’t use specific names, can’t reveal my contacts, that would be betraying them. But say, hypothetically, that this vid-screen was not only a very expensive vid-screen, it was an intelligent and conversant vid-screen as well. I see you’re look of confusion, what I mean is that it talked to you. Now say for example it had agreed not to reveal information about certain programs you watched, and we all know that you watch these certain programs, don’t we Snout?” Snout looked decidedly comfortable, he started to speak, thought better of it, and looked down.

“Eyes on the front Snout, I’m trying to illustrate my problem. Now suppose it revealed this information to certain parties that it had agreed not to, in your case Snout, any vaguely moral or decent human-being. Not only had it broken its agreement, but it had endangered your life in the process, almost certainly killed you. I can see you’re uncomfortable, don’t worry, Hadrach will help that.” At this Hadrach smiled, and pulled some metal cord from around his waist. He pushed Snout back in his seat and began to tie one wrist to the chair’s arm. Snout started to struggle. Hadrach punched him in the face. Blood rolled out of Snout’s nose. He stopped struggling. Soon his wrists and ankle were bound to the chair. Snout’s face was getting ever paler.

“I’m glad your sitting comfortably, now let’s continue. So, this very expensive vid-screen here has broken my trust, betrayed me, stabbed me in the back if you will. Well, I have to retaliate. The proscribed way, of course, would be this.” Nimo twirled his pistol in has hand until he was holding the barrel, then smashed the butt into the vid-screen. Glass shattered and exploded into the room. Nimo hit it again, and again, and again. Then he ripped it off the table and hurled it to the floor. He stamped on it, and its back buckled and broke.

“Now my problem here, is that that isn’t very satisfying. Actually it was, so I guess we have no problem.” Snout blanched.  “Now, as we know, you are the very expensive vid-screen. I’m not going to ask why you did it; I wouldn’t care even if I couldn’t read you like a book.” There was a loud bang. “Nor,” continued Nimo, “Am I going to shoot you in the other leg. In fact, I’m not going to hurt you at all. As you probably know, one of my joys isn’t inflicting pain on other people, this is were Hadrach comes in. Now before you start, I’ll have to warn you. Don’t keep quiet, otherwise I won’t know if my problem is being solved. And don’t worry, in this neighbourhood, no one will care if you scream.”

Offline Magos Exarratus

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Re: Where Darkness Dwells
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2009, 04:22:08 PM »
Nimo had left Hadrach standing outside. He felt uncomfortable without him, unprotected, but this wasn’t Hadrach’s line of work. That knowledge didn’t make him feel much safer. Seeing the man in action, and knowing that some might still be gunning for him, Nimo was not at all relieved. That’s why he kept him near. He, Hadrach that is, seemed to enjoy his work as well.

Nimo nodded at the door attendant. Something of a cross between a servitor and a butler, wires dangling out of him and metal running across his legs, his spine, suit covering the hand, keeping hidden the fact it was attached to the tray. All these signs, yet he lacked the signature dead eyes, unlike the thing housed in the shadows, the thing that made the door automatic. Nimo adjusted his bulky glasses, still trying to get used to the view. He wasn’t sure what frequency it was, but it was better then the bloody infra-red.

Non-descript, that’s what some people had called him. After the scene of an alleged crime someone would be asked to describe him, see what they remembered. A taxi, a taxi driver, an attendant or a passer-by or a savant. Non-descript they would answer, can’t quite remember, as if his features would just slide off his memory. Quite often they would want to say he was albino, but they were never sure why, they knew he wasn’t. He was no-one, was their general conclusion, no-one. The same wouldn’t always be true for the man walking next to him.

Nimo couldn’t recall the name he currently used off the top of his head. Not that it mattered, they had known each other for years. He was a striking man, something about the way he walked, possibly. There was a presence to him. At the moment he was trying to keep it in, curtail it. He wasn’t completely succeeding. He wore on him a brown suit in the style of this world. Nimo knew his name, Nimo knew many of his names. Too many. For now Nimo would simply call him Brown. It made everything a lot simpler. He would have to remember to refer to him in front of the ‘contact’ as Brown, it would do to forget he was called Melling. Brown that is, not the ‘contact’.

He paused his walking just where the butler-hybrid had indicated. It slid behind the vast oaken doors, which were being attended to by another butler-hybrid. Guarded may have been a better word. Standing, waiting, on stiff legs, he realised he had forgotten the ‘contact’s’ name. He looked up at Melling. No, he looked up at Brown. No help would come from that quarter, the second butler-hybrid was watching them, and Brown couldn’t talk. Occasionally Nimo thought this covert stuff might not be the best way. But then, if the other way was like the train yard, he could do without the excitement.

The doors opened before them, creaking ever so slightly. They were shown in. He felt Melling walk in beside him. No, he felt Brown, Brown. If only he could forget that name. He usually managed to. At least, Nimo thought he did, but whenever he thought about it he kept on forgetting he would be addressing Melling as Brown. In fact, for the purposes of this meeting, Melling was Brown. Nimo also was not Nimo, but that was easy enough.

A fat man sat on a fat armchair behind a massive desk. The desk, to continue the metaphor along, would be described as muscley rather than fat, but really it was neither. What it was was intimidating, what it didn’t do was make the fat (and opulently dressed) man behind any more intimidating, it just made him seem farcical. Nimo glanced around the room. It all seemed farcical, really, the walls in this ‘office’ were glaring and garishly juxtaposed, from the wall hangings to the covers to the clicking and whirring of the gears that seemed to serve no purpose whatsoever. They didn’t just clash, thought Nimo, they really did juxtapose each other, and not in a good way. He would be laughing if his palms weren’t sweaty and he could get rid of this uneasy feeling. It permeated his body. No matter, hopefully.

“Ah, you would be Gr. Maximo, would you not? It is a pleasure to see you.”

“Yes, yes,” replied Gr. Maximo, shifting uneasily at the voice, “You may call me M. I take it you would be Sr. Takecho?”

“Yes, yes, it seems I would.” The hybrid-butler brought a hover-stool across to Nimo. Placing his briefcase down, he sat. The hover-stool dipped. It probably had a proper name as well, thinking about it, but then there was probably a sensible reason why he was Sr. instead of Gr. like Maximo. It wasn’t what he should be thinking about now. “I ah, I ah, believe you wanted us to install that system today. My, ah, assistant, Brown here, will do that if you so wish. No, no, he won’t sit thank you. What, no, no, quite dumb, yes. So, shall he install the system?”

Gr. Maximo looked out from behind his massive desk and then nodded. His whole head wobbled. “Yes, yes, that would be good. Jeeves 1AF, show Brown to the room.”

The hybrid-butler dipped down slightly, and led Brown out. Brown looked around in a rather Melling sort of way.

“Now,” said Nimo, opening the briefcase. “Let us, ah, discuss payment.”

Gr. Maximo put on a gear-shaped monocle. For some unknown reason, it whirred.


Brown began setting up before the hybrid-butler left the room. Taking thick plastic discs out of the bags he reverse collapsed them until they looked like pylons. He set them up around the room. Then he began setting up other, mostly plastic, gadgets and widgets and whatchamacallits. Things that looked like they did something obscure and important, but actually served no purpose at all. Out of everything he was putting up, nothing worked, it served no technical purpose at all. Eventually he was satisfied with his ‘installation’. He disabled the original security system, in order for the replacement to function properly. Just as he (Brown) had been paid to do. Then he dropped the role of Brown from him, surfacing once more as Melling.

 The servitor wired up to the door wasn’t difficult to take out. Then it was just a case of placing the ark in the box they had brought for it, the box made of consecrated wood and inscribed with wards and runes and a couple of purity scrolls just to be safe. You could never be too careful with this sort of thing. Melling put the box in the bag, shouldered it, and became Brown once more. Brown the mute, Brown the boring, Brown the assistant to the overblown door to door salesman Takecho, Brown who installs security systems. He returned to the office.

“Then there is the, ah, case of the Machine Spirits. We have several different types, as, ah, you can see. This one here, the Imperial Voltaire, is one I would really recommend. It is top of the range, yes, yes, top of the range. Not only does it come with all the features of the others and have a high Omnissiah Approval rating, not only does it have the most suitable temperament for this kind of work, it, ah, comes with installation and prayers by, not one, not two, but three of the Omnissiah’s blessed priests, full with censure waving and complementary incense of your choice.”

“How much would that cost?” Gr. Maximo asked.

“Well, ah…” After some carefully disguised haggling and being given the advance payment in cash, they left, the ark safely locked deep within its box. Nimo could almost jump for joy, and relief. Well, mostly relief; if not entirely.

Offline Van Helser

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Re: Where Darkness Dwells
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2009, 05:34:46 PM »
'Yours is a pained face,' Thetramona said delicately, her one remaining eye focussed squarely on Carntyne.  'You tire of this life of cruelty.'

'I tire of your attempts to ignore my questions,' Carntyne responded quickly.  'Once more, where is Nesselman?'

'You have taken my hands,' the sorceress replied, glancing at the cauterised stumps pinned to wall either side of her, 'and my eye and yet I have not answered you.  Death holds no fear for me.  The promise of pain is no threat.  I will not give you Nesselman.'

'Fine.' Carntyne turned his back on the prisoner and headed for the cell's door.  'Summon the telepath,' he instructed the guard by the door.  'Quaternary level interrogation.'

Behind him, Thetramona laughed.  'A telepath?' she scoffed.  'Your interrogation attempts stood more chance of breaking me.  Telepathy is eminently resistible.'

'Not after he cuts out your tongue,' Carntyne said over his shoulder.  'Without your hexes, you are nothing.'

'No!'  Thetramona struggled against her bindings, tearing the flesh of her forearms around the nails that held her cruciform.  'No!  I will give you Nesselman!'

Carntyne approached her once more.  'Where is he?' 

'The courthouse shanties,' she replied, panic-stricken.  'That's all I know.'

Carntyne slipped a syringe from his pocket and plunged it into the meat of Thetramona's deltoid.  Her head slumped forward as the sedative sped through her system. 

'Gag her before she comes round,' he told the guard.  'When we have Nesselman, she joins him on the pyre.'

=][=

The shrieks from Thetramona's tongueless mouth were unexpectedly piercing as she burnt upon the pyre in the town square.  Her lead on Nesselman had been accurate, but Carnytyne had not been willing to risk her or her accomplice using one last hex as the fires overcame them.  Carntyne could not see the pair any longer through the tall flames that enveloped the pyre, but still Thetramona's screams sounded out despite the intensity of the fire.  A wave of uneasiness crept over Carntyne.  He had seen this once before on Derun.  When putting to death The Fractured their displeased daemonic patron had kept them alive to suffer the fires as payment for their failings before possessing the nearest latent mind.  That creature had killed Ferrous before Carntyne had managed to bring it down, and the loss of his one true ally within the Ordo had stayed prominent in his mind.  Carntyne reached for his Brogan One-Two and signalled for his followers to draw their own weapons.  He released the safety catch and began scanning the square's packed crowd for signs of possession.  Abruptly, Thetramona's screams stopped, and after a few seconds of apprehension, Carntyne gave the order to stand down.

At his side, Median removed his helmet.  'Is everything alright, Inquisitor?' the ex-enforcer asked.

'Yes Captain,' Carntyne said.  'When the fires are out, soak the ashes with blessed water.  We take no chances with hexed bones.'

Median nodded, a concerned look plastered across his face.  He stood for a split-second and took a deep breath, but if he had something to say, he thought better of it. Carntyne watched him as he stalked away to relay the order to the others, and regathered his thoughts.  He made to holster his pistol, but stopped as noticed the tremble in his hand.  Had Median seen it?  Cursing under his breath, Carntyne passed the gun to his left palm and stuffed his still-shaking right hand into his jacket pocket.  The palsy was getting worse.  Clenching his teeth, he moved away from the pyre and marched up the ramp of the waiting lander.  Inside sat Father Durmin Pez, a candle burning in his upturned palm, molten wax cascading down onto the reddened skin.  He looked up at the inquisitor as he entered the bay, and knowingly offered him his other hand.  Carntyne pulled his right hand from the pocket and placed it in Pez's palm. 

'The affliction is getting worse,' Pez said, shaking his head.  The hierophant closed his eyes and bowed his head, offering a silent prayer.  'Redouble your prayers this evening,' he instructed, releasing Carntyne's hand.  The tremble had passed.

'Median saw it,' the inquisitor said, taking a seat opposite Pez.  'He didn't say anything, but that investigator's mind of his won't forget it easily enough.'

'Just like yours,' Pez replied.  'Arbitrators never forget,' he added with a smile.

'It's been a long time since someone called me one of those,' Carntyne said, feigning insult.  'Besides, Median is just an enforcer.  He doesn't have my faith for a start.'

'Whatever you say, Inquisitor.'  The candle in Pez's hand stopped burning, its wick expended.  The hierophant scraped the wax from his hand and passed it to Carntyne.  'For your seals,' he said.  'I see you have been busy.'  He nodded at the four pieces of parchment pinned to the inquisitors breastplate and the wax seals adorning them.

'I felt that the Emperor's eyes would serve me well in this hunt,' Carntyne said, indicating the Prayer for True Sight scrawled on the first of the parchments.  'A Litany against the Warp felt appropriate too,' he said of the next, 'and Litanies of Smiting and Scorn.  All things considered, these prayers served me well for this mission.'

'Long may your choice of litanies be true,' Pez replied.

Carntyne nodded his thanks.  'Has there been any news from Thackery?'

'Our foppish friend has still not been in contact.  I'm not concerned though; this is nothing out of the unusual.'

'Still, it would help if he kept to the schedule.  No word from Misery either?'

Pez spat on the floor at the mention of the mutant's name.  'The scum has not made contact.  Why you rely on such a disgusting creature I will never know.'

'Misery can get into places we can't, just like Thackery.  Would you like to infiltrate a ghetto?  You wouldn't last two minutes.  Nor for that matter would you get anywhere near a Governor's court; you don't have the cheekbones for a start.'

'Very good Inquisitor Carntyne, very good.' 
« Last Edit: August 07, 2009, 06:17:27 PM by Van Helser »